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Byron Shire
February 27, 2021

Backlash against roadside drug testing regime

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Police testing drivers in Lismore. (Darren Coyne)
Police testing drivers in Lismore. (Darren Coyne)

Darren Coyne

A growing number of people are joining a Facebook site that provides information on police drug testing locations.

Called Nth Coast RDT locations, the site set up by Terry Placing of Tabulam now has almost 800 members.

‘We have lawyers, doctors … in fact we have a huge cross section that you would expect from the cannabis using community,’ Mr Placing said.

Mr Placing, who lost his licence for six months after testing positive in a road-side swap, said the site was set up because he felt unjustly punished.

“I was caught up in the first wave of testing and although I had not had a smoke since the Saturday before the Monday I tested positive.

‘Many people tested say that they haven’t consumed cannabis for days before testing positive,’ he said.

The Echonetdaily has reported previously that even local magistrates have questioned the effectiveness of the testing regime, as it does not test for driver impairment, simply the presence of cannabis in a person’s system.

An average of 50 drug driving convictions are being heard in the Lismore court each week.

Reports have also centred on the fact that up to a third of the roadside tests carried out by police were returning ‘false positives’.

That means drivers are found to be positive by the swap, but then are found to be negative when tested in ‘the bus’, where police use more sophisticated equipment.

Opponents of the testing regime also point out that the tests do not target people using prescription drugs that are known to impair driving abilty.

People using social media to avoid the police is nothing new.

The NSW Greens set up the Sniff Off Sydney site to alert people to the locations of police using sniffer dogs, and similar sites exist in Melbourne, Adelaide and other centres.


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  1. OK then, what is the solution?
    (Suggestions to abandon all roadside drug testing and allow open slather for drug-driving not on, thanks.)

    I would prefer that I (and anybody else for that matter) be pulled over with a “false positive” if it increased the chances that the driver approaching me in the opposite direction or at an intersection on any given occasion was more or less on the same planet as me.

    Insofar as “Opponents of the testing regime also point out that the tests do not target people using prescription drugs that are known to impair driving abilty” – nor do the tests target drivers at risk of falling asleep at the wheel, nor drivers who are doing everything except watching the road, nor for bogans with chevvy badges on their Holdens for that matter. :> But on that basis, is anybody seriously suggesting drug-driving testing should be abandoned?

    Again: how about those cannabis users objecting, come up with a viable alternative.

    And as an aside – all those bleating they hadn’t smoked for days before testing positive whilst driving: on the occasion of being sprung, Scouts Honour – no doubt you all suffered the incredibly bad luck that this was absolutely the very first time every last one of you had driven since having a puff? Hahahahahahahahaha!

  2. I’d be up for an impairment test or something similar to alcohol where there is a level that’s determined to be safe. people who smoked days or weeks before are obviously not impaired even if it is still in their system. that is what the critics are saying. it’s a waste of resources to be spending all this taxpayers money on testing that is taking peoples licences away for having a puff on the weekend.

  3. The British government recently funded the required studies to determine impairment levels across the board for all illicit drugs, the studies also covered prescription drugs which cause impairment.
    Want a fair suggestion?
    Adopt those recommendations and practices.
    The idea that the minuscule presence of any of the 3 illicit drugs tested for in Australia is making people safer is not backed by evidence at all.
    The fact is they’ve removed hundreds of drivers from the roads resulting in no decline in accident or fatality figures, proving this regime is not about road safety.
    The police brought this in because they lost the war on drugs years ago, it is merely the last volley fired in a failed war.

  4. The whole point is that they are not testing for impairment Greg, but for any presence of Cannabis in the driver’s system.
    Imagine having one beer on Friday after work and being DUI on Monday on your way to or from work.

  5. The solution should be directed by level of impairment based on scientific research as is reportedly the case for ETOH.
    The real problem is the multitudes of prescription drugs and their corelation in accidents based on much research. The problem is this issue will not be addressed because it will concurrently effect the lives of prescription medical drug users with real conditions and ultimately if will affect the medical profession itself

  6. tHIS MAY SEEM RANDOM….coffee is a drug, a stimulant, at certain levels (5+ capachino’s?) it had strong mental and physiological effects. Is there a correlation between caffine and motor vehicle accidents? How many drivers involved in accidents leading to death had caffine in their blood. If THC in blood of drivers in accidents has brought about this test regime surely the same logic should be applied to caffine.

  7. Move to a testing regime based on levels of impairment.
    The present system detects miniscule levels of drugs that may not have been deliberately imbibed.
    Its application has nothing to do with road safety. It is political persecution and it further damages the already tarnished perception of the NSW police.

  8. our page Drug Bus and Police Locations around Melbourne has close to 80,000 members, we have many reports of unfair treatment by the authorities.


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