The NSW opposition has called for clarity about how long police can detect illicit drugs in a persons system after they are consumed. Photo: John Gass / Tweed Daily News
The NSW opposition has called for clarity about how long police can detect illicit drugs in a persons system after they are consumed. Photo: John Gass / Tweed Daily News John Gass

Call for drug driving clarity on roadside tests

THE acquittal of a man in Lismore Local Court who smoked cannabis nine days before he was tested has prompted the NSW opposition police and roads spokeswoman to call for clarity regarding roadside drug testing.

Jodi McKay said it was clear from the result of Monday's case against Lismore man Joseph Carrall that from the information the Centre for Road Safety is putting out, and the information given in court about what the police officer told Mr Carrall, there is utter confusion around how these tests operate.

Confusion in court

"That is now obviously working its way to the court system which is a concern," she said.

"The government needs to provide clarity on this about how long after an illicit drug is consumed it can be detected."

Ms McKay said information about how long cannabis stayed in a driver's system varied from 12 hours, to a week, and in some instances, several weeks.

"If you look at the facts, the magistrate accepted that this fellow legitimately waited nine days, the police officer who gave the information that cannabis couldn't be detected after a week and the Centre for Road Safety are saying 12 hours," she said.

Zero tolerance to drugs

Centre For Road Safety Executive Director Bernard Carlon said the NSW Government takes a zero tolerance approach to drug driving.

"Mobile Drug Testing (MDT) is all about detecting recent use," he said.

"Based on medical research and the manufacturers' specifications of the device we use for MDT, cannabis can be detected at the roadside in oral fluid for up to 12 hours after use, depending on the quantity and potency consumed.

"A positive MDT does not by itself prove the offence - samples are sent to a laboratory where a highly accurate testing machine confirms the result.

High positive results

"Around 97% of samples collected from drivers who have tested positive to a roadside MDT are confirmed positive in the laboratory.

"People aren't charged until the results are confirmed in the laboratory and those with samples that don't return positive laboratory tests are not charged.

Police are reviewing Monday's drug driving acquittal at Lismore Local Court.



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