Legal eagle slams 'drug driving' tests

FOLLOWING a Lismore magistrate's decision earlier this week to acquit a driver of being under the influence of cannabis, a drug law expert from Southern Cross University has criticised the Random Drug Test regime as prohibition dressed up as road safety.

SCU School of Law and Justice lecturer specialising in drug law Aiden Ricketts condemned the random drug testing regime for not being evidence based and said it risks bringing "the law into disrepute".

"My understanding is that magistrates are very uncomfortable making convictions on this issue because there is no evidenced link between the positive reading on the drug test and the impairment of the driver," Mr Ricketts said.

"Unlike the alcohol laws, where there has been extensive research into the effects alcohol has on our driving and the level of impairment based on the amount of alcohol consumed, there has been insufficient research into the effects of cannabis."


FAIR TEST?: The roadside test used to detect drug drivers, picking up cannabis and methamphetamine.
FAIR TEST?: The roadside test used to detect drug drivers, picking up cannabis and methamphetamine. Helen Spelitis

Mr Ricketts explained that this lack of research into levels of impairment has led the government to taking a strict no tolerance policy, meaning any trace of THC warrants a conviction of the driver.

"You are not guilty of being drug affected whilst driving a car, you are guilty of failing the test and showing a trace of the drug in your system," he said.

"That is the essence of the widespread criticism of the law, it claims to be there as a road safety law but it is really just backdoor prohibition of those substances."

Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis hit back at Mr Ricketts' claims, labelling them as "ludicrous", ensuring the law was in place to save lives.

"I think that is nonsense, bear in mind taking illicit drugs like cannabis is illegal, period," Mr Gulaptis said. "This program is about saving lives pure and simple, and anyone who wants to put a different spin on it than that is ludicrous."

Earlier this week Lismore magistrate David Heilpern found Lismore man Joseph Carrall not guilty of a drug driving offence on the grounds the defendant had "honest and reasonable belief" he did not have a detectable quantity of cannabis in his system.

Mr Carrall had been told on a previous occasion by a police officer conducting a saliva test that if he waited a week before driving there would be no cannabis detectable in his system.

Mr Carrall's defence lawyer, Steve Bolt, said "the second time he was tested, the test proved positive but that was nine days after he said he had last consumed cannabis."

The court accepted that it was a truthful account and found that in that situation, it was a reasonable proposition for him to rely on what the officer had told him previously.

The acquittal of Mr Carrall has thrown open a debate on the issue with experts believing the tests to be unreliable and many unsure of what the true time it takes for cannabis to leave the system.

Centre For Road Safety executive director Bernard Carlon said he believes the testing can pick up residual cannabis up to 12 hours after it has been consumed.

In his judgment Mr Heilpern said: "That gauntlet is apparently part of the mystery and uncertainty-by-design of the current testing regime."

Topics:  drugs drug testing police

Tributes flow for Jodie

Balloons are released as the hearse pulls away from the funeral of Jodie Spears at the Christ Church Cathedral.

A mother, wife, sister, daughter and friend remembered

WATCH: As Knitting Nannas arrest 'Kevin Hogan'

The Knitting Nannas at Kevin Hogan's office in Molesworth St and, below left, Knitting Nanna Dororthy Moller with an 'arrest warrant for Kevin Hogan.

Group storms office in brazen stunt

Police canvas new rural crime fighting strategies

Fourth generation dairy farmer Graham MacIntyre, has released his own milk label, 'Lynward Queensland Milk'. Photo: Kari Bourne / Sunshine Coast Daily

Conference to tackle rural crime issues in New South Wales

Local Partners

WATCH: Junior Queen gets silver screen royal treatment

NEW documentary explores the festival's 20-year-old quest as former candidates share their stories and experiences.

Tea party with the 'Queen'

TRADITION: 1955 Jacaranda Queen Stella Wilson sits with reigning 2015 Jacaranda Queen Charlotte White at last year's Jacaranda Afternoon Tea.

Meet the royal patyu in style

Making steps for 'Blacky' in Walk 4 Brain Cancer

Grafton locals are doing a Walk 4 Brain Cancer in Sydney for Robert Black.

Team Blacky aims to better $5000 to battle brain cancer.

Sound of Music star to compere An Afternoon at the Proms

This photo provided by Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment shows, from left, Chairmian Carr, as Liesl, Nicholas Hammond, as Friedrich, Heather Menzies, as Louisa, Duane Chase, as Kurt, Angela Cartwright, as Brigitta, Debbie Turner, as Marta, Kym Karath, as Gretl, and Christopher Plummer, as Captain Von Trapp, in a scene from the film, \"The Sound of Music.\" The 1965 Oscar-winning film adaptation of the Rodgers & Hammerstein musical \"The Sound of Music\" is celebrating its 50th birthday in 2015. To honor the milestone, 20th Century Fox is releasing a five-disc Blu-ray/DVD/Digital HD collector's edition, the soundtrack is being re-released, the film will be screened at the TCM Classic Film Festival in Hollywood later this month and to over 500 movie theaters in April. (AP Photo/Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment)

Saraton's rich history of stage and screen honoured in musical tribu

Kristie doesn't mind being the third wheel in Survivor final

Kristie Bennett in a scene from Australian Survivor.

SOLO player will take on Survivor's power couple Lee and El tonight.

Scary hoping Posh and Sporty will re-join The Spice Girls

Mel B

Mel B hoping Victoria Beckham, Mel C will re-join The Spice Girls

REVIEW: Michael McIntyre has Brisbane in stitches

Michael McIntyre in a scene from his TV series Michael McIntyre's Comedy Roadshow.

BRITISH comedian is in the country on his Happy and Glorious Tour.

Cliff Richard doesn't need Rod Stewart's help with legal bills

Sir Cliff Richard

"'Don't worry, I'm loaded. I won't keep you to it.' "

Bindi Irwin named in MAXIM HOT 100 list

Wildlife Warrior named among Australia's most beautiful women

Look at me! Kath and Kim home up for sale

Kath and Kim from the iconic Aussie TV series.

'Crack open the Baileys and grab a box of BBQ Shapes'

Hinterland horse stud passed in for $8.25 million

UNREAL: This Maleny estate is incredible.

12-bedroom hinterland horse stud still available

Hit songwriter's Noosa mansion on market

SPECIAL PLACE: The Cintamani estate is going to tender, marketed by Tom Offermann Real Estate.

Is this Queensland's best property?

Kiwi siblings snap up Dotcom mansion for $32.5m

The new toy company owners of the Coatesville mansion want replace any controversy with positivity and fun. Photo / Barfoot and Thompson

The trio paid $32.5 million for the property in June

New $200 million development will create 580 jobs

Cassie And Josh with baby Alfie and daughter Andee. They have bought at new Lennox Head development Epiq.

Majority of new positions will be given to Northern Rivers locals

Cherrabah's mega resort plans axed

PLANS for a massive development at Cherrabah have been scrapped.