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Drugged driving law now includes benzodiazepines

Hon Steven Joyce
Minister of Transport
20 October 2009 Media Statement
Drugged driving law now includes benzodiazepines

Parliament has tonight voted to widen the scope of new drugged driving legislation to include benzodiazepines – a class of prescription drugs that can lead to severe impairment in driving ability.

Benzodiazepines are generally sedatives or anti-anxiety medications. These will now be included in the Land Transport Amendment Act which comes into force on 1 November.

“When the legislation was passed in June drugged driving campaigners raised concerns around the exclusion of benzodiazepines,” says Mr Joyce.
“I asked officials to look into it and they reported that this class of drugs should not be excluded from the legislation.

“With the support of most parties in Parliament the change to include benzodiazepines was made last night as an addition to the Illegal Street Racing legislation.”

“The drugged driving legislation is only aimed at drivers who pose a road safety risk. A driver who is not impaired will not be affected by this law.”
The Land Transport Amendment Act 2009 creates a new offence for drivers impaired by drugs, introduces compulsory testing when the driver is suspected of driving while under the influence of drugs and allows for blood testing to determine whether there are drugs in the bloodstream.

The 1 November start date coincides with the new road user rule banning the use of hand held mobile phones.
Mr Joyce says the common commencement date will help raise awareness about both changes.

ENDS

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