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Draconian new Police roadside drug testing powers

Excerpt from:

Land Transport Amendment Act 2009

Last updated on 2/11/2009 8:43 a.m.

A new law to combat drug impaired driving

The Land Transport Amendment Act 2009 (the Act) gives Police greater powers to deal with the problem of people driving under the influence of drugs. Provisions for combating drugged driving came into force on 1 November 2009.

People who drive when their judgement and reactions are impaired by drugs are a danger to themselves and other road users.  The Act aims to reduce this hazard by:

  • creating a new offence of driving while impaired with evidence in the bloodstream of a qualifying drug (ie a controlled drug that is classified under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975 or driving while impaired, and with evidence in the bloodstream of a prescription medicine)
  • empowering Police to determine whether or not a driver is impaired by means of a ‘compulsory impairment test‘ which tests co-ordination, physiological reactions and markers for drug impairment such as pupil dilation
  • empowering Police, if the test shows that the driver is impaired, to forbid the person to drive (generally for 12 hours) and require the driver to provide a blood sample to determine whether qualifying drugs are present
  • imposing penalties for the impaired-driving offence which are aligned to the penalties for drink driving
  • providing defences for persons who have consumed qualifying drugs in accordance with a current prescription and instructions from the manufacturer or a health practitioner
  • creating a further new offence of driving with Class A controlled drugs in the bloodstream in cases where a driver is injured, is in hospital or a doctor’s surgery, and is unable to undertake the impairment test.

Read the questions and answers on the new law to combat drug impaired driving.

The Act also reforms the law regulating the registration and licensing of motor vehicles.  These changes are planned to come into force mid to late 2010. Further information on this will be available on this website closer to that time.