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.