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Byron Shire
October 16, 2021

Drug test leaves Ocean Shores man with unpleasant taste

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Robert Podhajsky of Ocean Shores. (supplied)
Robert Podhajsky of Ocean Shores. (supplied)

Darren Coyne

An Ocean Shores man was left with an unpleasant taste in his mouth following a roadside drug test.

He claims to have had an adverse reaction to the chemicals on the testing device, and is unhappy that he is still to hear what those chemicals are.

Robert Podhajsky, a 62-year-old who does not use illegal drugs, was subjected to the test during police operation in Feburary this year, and told to ‘lick the stick’ used by the police officer.

‘I asked what was on it and was told nothing was on it,’ Mr Podhajsky said.

‘After licking the stick straight away I had a very unpleasant taste bud reaction, that is hard to describe, which lasted at least four hours.

Mr Podhajsky asked the testing officer whether there was any information available regarding the chemicals used on the testing stick, and was told no.

Not content with the response, he contacted the NSW Ombudsman to make an official complaint, but received an email later saying that ‘it was not serious enough for them to follow the complaint, and that a senior police officer would contact him’.

‘When the officer from Sydney rang she gave me the impression that they thought I was a prank,’ he said.

Mr Podhajsky said his complaint was far from a joke.

He said he is extremely sensitive to chemicals after years working in the manufacturing and building industries.

‘This means I have to avoid the fumes or skin contact of many chemicals (mineral turpentine, treated pine, mineral based paints, any hydrocarbon, glues, the list is almost endless).

‘I feel the effect straight away if I get the fumes from say a can of spray paint almost an instant headache tingling chemical lips and unwellness.’

He asked the senior police officer for a list of the chemicals contained in the testing kits but was told that although it was available in the manufacturers guidelines, ‘she would have to ask for permission to send me the information’.

Mr Podhajsky has heard nothing since and is now concerned that if he refuses a test in the future that he may be charged and end up in court.

He contacted Echonetdaily after reading recent reports questioning the effectiveness of the roadside drug-testing regime.

Those reports have centred around results from last month’s state-wide Operation Saturation, which indicate that a third of motorists in the northern rivers area, who tested positive during the roadside test, then tested negative in the testing bus.

Critics have said those results indicate that the testing regime is far from accurate.

They have also argued that while the testing may be picking up traces of an illicit substance such as cannabis, there is no evidence to show that their driving has been impaired.

Meanwhile, the NSW Greens have also been asking questions, and have been unsatisfied with the responses from NSW Police.

Greens MP David Shoebridge this week told the Echonetdaily that while drivers impaired by drugs should not be allowed behind the wheel of a car, the Greens supported evidence-based policies.

‘The Greens support evidenced-based policing that detects and punishes drug impaired drivers on the roads. However that doesn’t seem to be what we have in NSW,’ he said.

‘What is not right is an arbitrary policy that seems to be punishing drivers without any credible evidence that their driving is impaired.

Critics of the testing regime have long argued that the tests are picking up minute traces of THC, while ignoring prescription drugs known to impair a driver’s ability.

They also argue that the consumption of hemp seed, oil, or medical marijuana products could result in positive results, despite a changing of the political landscape, which is increasingly recognising the benefits of medical marijuana.

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  1. I think this gentleman should suck on a peppermint and go get a life. Stop wasting the valuable time of our law enforcement heroes.

    • Joe

      I’m glad you’re happy to be processed by automatons. I come from a time when police were humans. You probably wouldn’t understand the difference.

  2. Joe Monks should stop sucking up to belligerent cops … I will refuse to “lick the stick” till I know what’s on it too. Innocent people harassed. Doesn’t that mean anything, Joe? Go the right wing wowsers. Don’t you think the cops time might be better spent chasing real criminals, Joe?

  3. Another dodgy statist infringement on our civil liberties in an effort to raise more revenue and demonise a section of the community. Maybe we can start issuing the police with infringement notices for infringing on our freedoms.

  4. sad indictment of our society that there are such gullible patsys like those two above. individuals that are so under the spell of the police state (growing number) that they cant see the problem with innocent folks going about their daily tasks being randomly pulled over and ordered to shove an object into the intimate private parts..fking disgraceful…

  5. This man has every right to question what he is ingesting. He is protecting himself and standing up for his rights to be treated with respect.
    Hopefully by his actions, himself and others can find out what chemicals are on these sticks and whether or not they (the chemicals) may cause adverse effects on sensitive people.
    Good on him for being brave. It may pay off for many other people.

  6. How quick some people are to insult someone with a genuine concern over a health issue.

    I read Mr Podhajsky’s complaint as a genuine concern re chemical reactions to things that could otherwise be avoided. Some of us do have adverse reactions, to things as common as perfume or food preservatives.

    Poison, in whatever form it takes, is a real issue for people sensitive to it, even if most people feel nothing. If I am drug tested, they won’t find anything drug-related on me, aside from potential (and oft reported) false negatives, but if I feel numb lips and headache as a result of being subjected to such treatment, I, too, will complain!

  7. Well as usual, cops or stooges or whomever is associated with an article, jumps in with rude un necessary comments. Why do it? Why lower yourself and everyone else? Why try and hurt peoples feelings? What about acceptance and sensitivity and agreeing to disagree?

    It’s a criminal offence to force someone to ingest a substance. And, yes, the cops are supposed to know what chemicals are involved with the stick.

    It won’t be so funny when someone has an anaphylactic reaction to the traces of peanut or benzene or whatever a chemical is – that was forced upon them after they actually asked to know what they were putting in their mouth – and they die behind the wheel 20 minutes later. That officer would have only minimal legal protection and may see jail and a massive damages suit. All the law would need is for the driver to declare an allergy and actually ask to know what it was. There’s an interesting precedent

    Wasn’t it about 7 or so years ago that Australia first trialled these things, and most of Europe considered us a laughing stock because so many countries knew from experience how utterly ineffective this testing is
    They were all ‘what on earth are you doing? That stuff doesn’t work. We tried. Use some more effective methods. Australia – backward or what?’

    If it helps at all I was tested 7 odd years ago outside Byron, I refused to put some wierd thing in mouth and said I would spit on it instead. Because I insisted and said I had an allergy, it was accepted. I don’t have a known specific allergy – but like any sensible person I am not going to put a strange unknown object proferred by a stranger into my mouth
    There you go. Do that


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