Drug driving tests are coming

March 14th, 2009 at 9:50 am by David Farrar

From Stuff:

Transport Minister has made the introduction of drug tests for drivers his “top priority”.

A bill, which would give police the power to stop and make drivers have a roadside test for drug impairment, is before Parliament’s select committee.

Drafted by the previous Labour Government, the bill failed to get through the select committee stage in 2007.

Mr Joyce has now put the bill forward again and believes it will be passed by the middle of the year.

It certainly is a serious problem:

An ESR study between 2004 and 2008 found 52 per cent of drivers that died in accidents were under the influence or alcohol or .

What I don’t know if how any testing will determine if the drug use was recent (ie is currently impairing the driver) or historical. Off memory cannabis can remain in your bloodstream for weeks or longer.

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31 Responses to “Drug driving tests are coming”

  1. Wycroft (871 comments) says:

    Labour’s Parliamentary research unit – the ones coming up with all those tricky, probing questions in the House – must be crapping themselves. I can only conclude they’re all on drugs.

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  2. MikeE (555 comments) says:

    While I agree that driving while high is terrible, and should be cracked down upon. This strikes me as a policy with many possible flaws, and might be a fishing expedition pushed by the police.

    The major issue here is going to be presence vs impairment. It is not illegal to have previously consumed drugs in NZ (as it is in say saudi arabia etc). Only to be in possession etc, (as one could have consumed in another jurisdiction).

    Pot stays in the bloodstream for ages, and its effect on driving is mixed. Some its terrible, and potentially deadly, for others it improves concentration. But, as mentioned if its a blood test (which is invasive and potentially against bora if done without a warrent) then you are going to be testing for presence, not impairment.

    Meth on the otherhand dissapears after a few days.

    Its not like Booze, where, what you can measure on the breath gives you a good indication of current impairment. (though I believe there are some saliva tests out there) etc that give a reasonable indication.

    As someone who supports drug liberalisation, I understand that freedom must come with responsibility, but while said substances are currently illegal, I see this as a nightmare waiting to happen, and will be used by police to fish for future warrents etc.

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  3. big bruv (13,331 comments) says:

    Cue Phool and every other fucking dope head who will tell us the usual lies about Cannabis being a harmless drug etc…

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  4. MikeE (555 comments) says:

    Also, I believe pot shows up the same on tests as legal substances such as JWH018. So, I have no problem with people being charged with driving under the influence while impaired etc… but – if they get done for possession after consuming a legal substance (putting aside the fact that pot should be legal anyway) there are going to be serious issues.

    I have no faith in the nats, (and especially Ms Lets all Ban Water Dean) ability to decide on sensible drug policy.

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  5. GMDI (71 comments) says:

    The problem with cannabis, mdma, cocaine, meth is that they linger in the system long after people are under the influence of the drugs. so any drug test may pick up residual levels and people can find themselves charged for having taken drugs, not being under the influence. these tests had better be pretty sharp or the judiciary is going to be tied up in the extreme with people challenging the charges.

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  6. peterwn (3,168 comments) says:

    MikeE

    There are three issues:
    1. It is an offence to drive under the influence of legal substances if they impair driving – doctors will tell patients not to drive after certain treatments or taking certain drugs.
    2. Parliament can make it illegal to drive when legislated testing procedures show more than a prescribed amount of a specified chemical in the body. If the chemical is one that directly causes impairment then fair enough. So it would not matter if the person had been smoking pot or taking JWH018, assuming that both are equally capable of impairing driving.
    3. Results from such prescribed tests, while being determinative for drug-drive puropses must still reach the usual evidential threshholds for criminal drugs charges. In any case AFAIK presence of an illegal substance in the body does not contravene drug laws.

    There seems only one significant party that would have drug policies to Mike’s liking.

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  7. Will de Cleene (485 comments) says:

    I think it was NZ comedian Jeremy Elwood who noted “If you smoke and drive, you’re a bloody slow driver.”

    Big Bruv, no cannabis reform lobby portrays cannabis as a harmless drug. What demonstrable harms exist pale in comparison with the harms caused by prohibition. It’s the same argument that the US faced with repealing alcohol prohibition. Alcohol isn’t harmless, but the banning of alcohol consumption caused racketeering, murder, vast (untaxed) black markets and, quite probably, INCREASED problem drinking. Have a look at Mexico if you think drug prohibition is less harmful than the drugs themselves.

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  8. Will de Cleene (485 comments) says:

    From the Drug Foundation’s drugtube:

    Quentin Willson, one of Britain’s top motoring gurus, gets serious about driving while stoned. Watch a driving test done after a typical strength spliff’.

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  9. MikeE (555 comments) says:

    Peter, did you not see mine, along with farrars comment on presence vs impairment.

    I have no problem with people being done for impairment. presence on the other hand I do.

    And the oly way to test for impairment is probably invasive, the question is is the trade off for invasive testing worth the breach of liberties compaired to the risk of impairment on public safety.

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  10. philu (13,393 comments) says:

    astonishing how the ‘freedoms’/personal rights ‘beliefs’ of righties such as big bro..

    ..are only for themselves..

    ..and those who agree with them..

    ..and are so easily sacrificed on the alter of (whatever..)

    ..phil(whoar.co.nz)

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  11. getstaffed (9,189 comments) says:

    phil, when YOU stop treating your lazy lifestyle of blogging piffle and smoking dak as a right, then I’ll listen you to your comments about the rights of others.

    so how about you demonstrate some responsibility in your own life: get a job and start paying taxes.

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  12. MikeE (555 comments) says:

    Get staffed. Smoking weed, is a right under natural justice, that is a negaitve right, in that one should not be prevented from doing so (as opposed to the positive right, that the state must provide said weed)…

    That said – agreed that phil should get off his ass and work :-P

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  13. Ryan Sproull (7,033 comments) says:

    This could potentially be seen as a move towards cannabis legalisation. After all, it is a step closer to treating it identically to how the law treats alcohol – use it if you like, but only if you’re old enough, and not in ways that put others at risk.

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  14. philu (13,393 comments) says:

    “..your lazy lifestyle of blogging piffle..”

    are you talking about my 6.30..am arising..

    ..and the finding/posting of 25+ stories/links..?

    ..and ‘piffle’..?

    ..so..times/independant/guardian..are just three of my sources for (british-based) ‘piffle’..?

    ..(but you’d know..!..eh..?..)

    ..you’d be relying on fox..eh..?

    ..and the herald..?..

    ..supermarket giveaways..?

    ..rightwing slogans..?

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

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  15. Piggy (66 comments) says:

    Ryan it could be, but the problem is as follows

    If Philu gets stoned on a friday night, then gets stopped by the cops driving to work on monday morning (haha), he’s fucked and will lose his license and get charged with dui. On the other hand, the guy who went and had a few dozen on that same friday won’t have any problems with blowing into the machine on monday. On the monday neither of them will be under the influence of any drugs, but one of them is still going to get nicked.

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  16. Manolo (13,399 comments) says:

    “are you talking about my 6.30..am arising..”

    Hear, hear. Whoar starts his baking/cooking duties early.

    When it comes to leaving the house and driving a car, don’t need to worry Whoar. Your loyal customers will always come to your “bakery”.

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  17. philu (13,393 comments) says:

    i don’t ‘bake’ or ‘cook’ news..

    ..man-so-low..

    ..what on earth are you talking about..?

    ..you silly little man..!

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

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  18. philu (13,393 comments) says:

    where t.f.did my comment go..?

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

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  19. Jack5 (4,600 comments) says:

    Did I see or read or hear that the Greens were mixed up in this? That Labour stopped pushing through testing for drugged drivers to keep the Greens happy?

    You also have to wonder why the New Age puritans who are wiping out tobacco smoking are so silent about the physical effects of smoking cannabis or meths or ruining noses with cocaine.

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  20. sethpecekajus (5 comments) says:

    yes the presence in the body will be a big issue, if i remember rightly there was a pilot scheme testing for stoned drivers up hamilton, i don’t know what you people did during your youth, but to my generation goin out cruising, pot was for the driver while the rest of us were on the piss, not to mention the classic kiwi road trip, all fond memories. From my experience i would far rather be in car with a stoned driver than a drunk one, (and yes i’ve been in both) a 70kph white knuckle drive down the motorway with cars passing us and thinking shit they’re goin fast, stoned as, as opposed to the 140kph “death cruise” missing cars by inches and hearing the re-assuring noise of the reflectors on the road going under the wheel. There needs to be a difinitive test to prove that the driver is impaired at that specific moment. If not it will be a dismal faliure and result in hundreds of people locked up for victimless crime.

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  21. MT_Tinman (2,995 comments) says:

    Having considered the issue of cannabis legality over the years (although never when I was high as a kite) I don’t think I’d object to it’s legalisation as long as it was taxed to the same level as tobacco is now (and cyclists should be ;-) ).

    This has no bearing, of course, on it’s detection when assessing drivers’ abilities.

    I’m all for that.

    What I seriously hope though is that this detection is used on drivers stopped for bad driving and not applied to people stopped illegitimately at “check-points” who’s sole “crime” was to use the roads to travel from point to point.

    I would hope also that this drug detection is applied equally to ALL road users who drive/ride/walk badly with identical penalties for all convicted.

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  22. Mr Nobody NZ (397 comments) says:

    Why not simply got back to the old physical tests eg walk a straight line, touch your nose, say the alphabet?

    If you cannot pass these basic sorts of tests I don’t care if its because your drunk, stoned, high on prescription drugs or just fatigued the results prove you are not safe to be in control of a motor vehicle.

    You can try an complicate things and introduce special tests/devices etc but whats wrong with the K.I.S.S (Keep It Simple Stupid) principle.

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  23. Ryan Sproull (7,033 comments) says:

    I don’t know the chemistry of it, but there must be some discernible difference in the blood between 30 minutes after a joint and three days after it.

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  24. wikiriwhis business (3,883 comments) says:

    Are drivers going to suffer random blood tests at check points

    Are we all going to be injected for driving on the roads?

    Are we going to sit back and let that happen to us?

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  25. Mr Nobody NZ (397 comments) says:

    Wikiriwhis, if it meant that the risk of impaired drivers on our roads was totally eliminated, then personally I’m happy for the government to require a blood sample every time I go to start up my car. If however its only going to make a marginal improvement then I say forget the reason why they’re impaired and lets focus on roadside testing simply measuring if people are able to safely control a vehicle.

    If they can’t then start sticking needles into them to work out why.

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  26. wikiriwhis business (3,883 comments) says:

    I’m sick of seeing people puled over in 50k areas where there a no accidents.

    It’s complete proof the govt is using the safer roads for revenue.

    Now you want us to be stuck with needles.

    You’ll be happy we’ll have bar codes lasered to us as well then.

    And before you say anything about that, the technology is already in place.

    No tin foil hats, the international cashless society is on its way. Should be obvious enough by now anyway.

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  27. barry (1,317 comments) says:

    Sounds like great news to me. The stuffs illegal so no one has the right to use it then go drving and KNOWINGLY endanger others.
    Drining while stoned should be treated as attempted homicide.

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  28. MikeE (555 comments) says:

    “Drining while stoned should be treated as attempted homicide.”

    And what should posting ignorant drivel be classed as?

    Have you read the posts.

    the issues are
    * presence vs impairment
    * Invasiveness of testing

    I don’t think ANYONE is defending “stoned driving” anymore than they would defend drunk driving.

    But the average kiwi is too ignorant to understand that presence of a drug in the blood stream does not mean impairment, so we keep on going around in circles. Pot stays in the blood for up to 30 days, you do not remain stoned for 30 days.

    Are you suggesting that people should not be able to drive for 30 days after touching it.

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  29. Redbaiter (13,197 comments) says:

    “An ESR study between 2004 and 2008 found 52 per cent of drivers that died in accidents were under the influence or alcohol or drugs.”

    If Stephen Joyce is bent on repeating this kind of worthless propaganda he’s the wrong man to be in charge of Transport. We need someone who has the intelligence to see through such feeble misinformation, not one who gormlessly repeats it.

    We want truth not self serving garbage primarily designed to provide the worthless authoritarian and fascist desk pilots in the Dept of Transport with job security.

    Very bad judgment.

    Nick Smith is challenging his bureaucrats. Joyce needs to do the same. Dept of Transport is out of control. Especially with this kind of propaganda.

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  30. Chris G (106 comments) says:

    Surely ACT should vote against this. As proclaimed libertarians they should support those who want to get high and drive.

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  31. Redbaiter (13,197 comments) says:

    “As proclaimed libertarians”

    They make no such proclamations. The Libertarians have their own party, and should keep the hell away from ACT.

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