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Government To Rollout Roadside Drug Testing

Hon Simeon Brown
Minister of Transport

The Coalition Government will introduce legislation this year that will enable roadside drug testing as part of our commitment to improve road safety and restore law and order, Transport Minister Simeon Brown says.

“Alcohol and drugs are the number one contributing factor in fatal road crashes in New Zealand. In 2022, alcohol and drugs were contributors to 200 fatal crashes on our roads. Despite this, only 26 percent of drivers think they are likely to be caught drug driving.

“The previous government passed legislation to introduce roadside drug testing, however two years later, no progress has been made as the legislation was flawed and unworkable as the roadside tests needed to be suitable for evidentiary standards, rather than screening standards,” Mr Brown says.

Speaking at the launch of Road Safety Week, Mr Brown said that legislation will be introduced this year to give Police the power to randomly screen drivers for drugs at the roadside using oral fluid testing devices, similar to drink-driving enforcement.

“Oral fluid testing is common overseas and is an easy way to screen for drugs at the roadside. Our approach will bring New Zealand in line with Australian legislation and will remove unnecessary barriers that have delayed the fight against drug driving.

The Coalition Government is committed to giving Police the tools they need to improve the detection of drug driving and will set targets for Police to undertake 50,000 oral fluid tests per year once roadside drug testing is implemented.

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“For too long, drug drivers have put other road users at risk with very limited enforcement. Those days are over, and anyone driving while impaired by drugs can expect to be caught and face serious consequences under our drug testing regime.”

Legislation is expected to be introduced to Parliament by the middle of the year and passed towards the end of 2024.

Note:

The difference in approach:

  • Legislation passed by the previous government in 2022 enabled oral fluid testing (OFT) at the roadside for evidentiary purposes. Police have been unable to procure an OFT device suitable for evidentiary purposes.
  • Legislation to be introduced this year will enable OFT at the roadside for screening purposes. Drivers who return a positive screening result will have an oral fluid sample sent for evidential laboratory testing. If that test confirms the presence of any specified qualifying drug at a level that indicates recent use, those drivers will be issued an infringement fee and demerit points.
  • Drivers who return two positive results at the roadside will immediately be prohibited from driving for 12 hours. Drivers who refuse to take a screening test will be issued with an infringement fee and demerit points at the roadside and be prohibited from driving for 12 hours.

Specified drugs:

  • The roadside screening and laboratory tests will be used to detect drugs specified in the Land Transport Act. These impairing drugs were included in the Land Transport Act on the advice of an independent expert panel.

Costs of implementation:

  • The costs of implementing the new oral fluid screening regime will be met through the National Land Transport Fund.

© Scoop Media

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