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CLA says the ACT Government’s review of the Road Transport (Alcohol and Drugs) Act raises serious ‘fair go’ questions about whether random drug testing (RDT) is either appropriate or viable; whether delaying 1 in 7 drivers tested for 30 minutes is reasonable; whether it’s OK to use drink and drug test DNA samples for other offences; and whether a mature society should remove a magistrate’s sentencing discretion.

Every 7th driver delayed 30 minutes under roadside drug test proposal

Civil Liberties Australia believes addressing the road toll and road injuries is important, and welcomes attempts to make the roads safer. But the ACT Government’s latest discussion paper is a grab-bag of ‘me too’ proposals – without adequate statistical or scientific supporting evidence – from other Australian States where there is no proof they they work.

It is extremely questionable whether the measures proposed are a sensible priority for government funding to reduce the road toll and injury rates, or whether more appropriate responses would better cut road risks.

The discussion paper:

  • fundamentally dispenses with the notion that to commit an offence your driving must be impaired – mere presence of a substance would be an offence;
  • proposes new, harsher penalties for exceeding arbitrary alcohol or drug levels which could see the government confiscating and selling your car;
  • seeks to do follow-up blood tests on some 14% of drivers subjected to a roadside, Random Drug Test because screening kits are not accurate enough (the result will be a 30-minute delay for 1 in 7 drivers tested); and, possibly worst of all,
  • stigmatises many magistrates’ sentencing outcomes as inadequate…and proposes magistrates be stripped of the right to make a sensible decision after hearing all the facts.

Civil Liberties Australia submission is here. The ACT Government Discussion Paper can be found here.

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