Random drug tests are unjust

There is no impairment scale for drugs in the system, and no-one can tell you accurately how long after taking a drug to wait before it is safe to drive. Despite these raging uncertainties, police and governments are imposing random roadside drug tests that are more PR show than delivering justice.

Random drug tests are unjust

I am concerned over the unjust roadside drug driving tests (newly introduced into the Australian Capital Territory). I find it extremely unfair that a motorist can be tested days after smoking cannabis (clearly not under the influence) and still return a positive test.

Let it be said, I do not condone driving under the influence of anything and I have not been caught drug driving. I am simply a person who believes that these laws are unjust. My concerns are:

1.  Why is a person who smokes cannabis days earlier given the same penalty as a person who fills themselves with chemical drugs and drives that night and is caught? It’s not right. A person who steals $5 does not receive the same penalty as a person who steals $5,000,000 even though the offence is stealing. In the ACT it is a blanket penalty for drug driving of a $1100 fine and loss of licence. It’s just not right!

2.  The test itself is completely wrong: it is not appropriate that the test should be a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to being under the influence (or simply having a trace amount of drugs in your system).

3.  The government and police will not provide a more accurate testing device or devise a scale system (similar to the drink driving limit)…because drugs are illegal. But they cannot continue to keep charging people for drug driving based on a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ outcome when the ‘yes’ may come from smoking cannabis days ago.

4.  There is no set rule or guideline or accurate information around for motorists to use to determine if they still have drugs in their system – and therefore to know not to drive. The police say to wait 72 hours and, depending on the amount taken, they say to wait longer…but HOW LONG must you wait?  They don’t say.

The Australian Drug Foundation states to wait at least 5-6 hours before driving. What is the right information? What can a driver rely on to provide accurate information? The government and police are reluctant to provide this advice because they do not know for sure and are more happy to continue charging people under (for what I believe to be) unjust and unfair laws. By not providing motorists with this concrete information, it is only hurting people and families who should otherwise not be in that situation.

The police and government are happy to charge people based on false and misleading information and inaccurate tests. What can be done to overcome the injustice of these laws?

– Michael Donnelly, Canberra

Ed. note: The random drug driving laws/tests will only be overturned if enough people complain about them loudly enough and for long enough. If anyone wants to record their objection, they can lodge a complaint on this site under ‘Your Opinion’. People should also jump on to talkback radio, and write letters to the editor of publications and blogs.

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  1. My understanding is that the UK administers roadside RDT that measure driving IMPAIRMENT ! Australia of course gets a dumbed-down knee-jerk version that conveniently supplies endless convictions and lucrative penalties, and takes many people off the road and into criminal records… for no good reason. This is a simplistic display for a public who remain ignorant of the mechanics of its legality. It also another gross violation of human rights and dignity, perpetrated by control-obsessed political administrations, who feel vindicated and immune from criticism, while sociopaths like Dutton spout ‘law’norder’ on a Nurembourg scale! Australia, this is where the national character of ‘she’ll be right’ and compliant, complacent amnesia, will eat you alive while you sleep !

  2. The roadside drug testing is a absolute disgrace in its current form. I am not suggesting that driving under the influence of any drug is acceptable and drug affected drivers should be punished. However, my interpretation of being drug affected means that a person would be impaired at the time of testing. Not to get false a positive test from a saliva test and then have further tests determine minuscule amounts of a drug in a persons body that may have been from smoking marijuana several weeks earlier and then be treated as a criminal. This law will net many decent family people that have no intention of driving while being drug affected. The knock on effect could be loss of jobs, financial hardship which all affect the person’s family in many ways. When it is looked at in this light there is simply no logic as to why roadside drug testing does not treat marijuana the same as it treats alcohol and has a upper limit which is based on driving impairment and not a crazy and dangerous war on drugs. This type of testing is simply punishing people for not acting as society demands. I am sure that the people of Australia will eventually rise to stop this injustice.

    Angry man
    But seriously even the legal drug alcohol has a level thats deemed able to make decisions at. I think the random drug tests are just pr and as mentioned in this article just revenue rasising or if you like the governments in ability to listen to australians about either legalization or decriminalization. once one of those two come up then the government / police would have to look at the reasonable functioning levels of illicit drugs in the body. Here is a question is it safer for a heroin cocaine or other harder illegal drugs to drive on them or drive when the drug is out of their system? aka in withdrawral? should they be taking the drugs? No but those drugs can effect you with withdrawral simptoms and a person might not act properly trying to drive? This drug driving crap needs to be rethought. Cannabis eg the test may show up days after or hours after your fine it depends on the strength of the cannabis the amount had the method of delivery. While cannabis is illegal none of that can be measured aka i know most standard beers 375mls are 1.2 standard drinks and in theory i can drive an hour or so after. People with cannabis dont have that luxury. they could have the weekest weed ever and the test mightnt show anything or the biggest stone ever drive a week later and still be done. then there is a bodys tollerance to it. The government needs to come out of the dark and assess these issues and realise people will smoke it eat it vaporise it and that keeping it illegal is hurting the country not only peoples pockets but blackening their names with charges and points taken off of licenses as mentioned in the above article. Would you like to be treated as a killer if you didnt mean to kill someone and get life in prison. its the same with dope why the same fines etc when you might have had that dope 5 days ago at a party with alcohol not remember or something and on the test it shows up your done even though the efects wore of days ago. the majority of marijuanna lasts 1 hour to 7 hours long depending on what stuff you take then the day after unlike alcohol you feel 100 percent cool and relaxed and focused not dehydrated crappy and prone to make mistakes. Anyway the laws are wrong and we all need to push if not for decriminalization or legalization then for laws that measure levels of intoxication and negligent levels of thc in the body of the person being tested. Or else maybe rethink our entire government become a repubic and redo our laws based on the american system or a constitution by the people for the people preventing laws from being made that are unfair or unjust. Of course us australians dont take up the banner of fight for your rights unless it suits us and we have become a very lazy country that has decided to be totaly under the thumb of the government not even doing things when our politicians lie.


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