In this film we see a man at a family barbecue. He is offered a glass of wine. He says, No, I'm driving Gran home.
He is then seen driving a vehicle with his Gran in the car. They drive up to a Victoria Police roadside drug test.
The man is asked to complete a drug test and the Policeman says, Sir, you've tested positive to illicit drugs. His Gran is sitting in the passenger seat and looking disappointed.
The man is led from his vehicle into a police car.
VO: Drugs can remain in your system long after the night's over.
Super on screen: More drug tests. More places. More often.
End of the transcript
More drug tests, more places, more often.
Drug driving is a serious road safety issue. In the last five years approximately 41% of all drivers and motorcyclists killed who were tested, had drugs in their system, with cannabis and stimulants the most common substances detected. One in four Victorians who use drugs admit to driving under the influence of recreational drugs.
The number of drug tests conducted by Victoria Police has increased from 40,000 tests in 2014 to 150,000 tests in 2019. Tests are not only conducted via booze/drug buses but from marked and unmarked patrol cars, police motorcycles and mobile intercepts.
Victoria Police have the right to pull drivers over at any time and test their saliva for traces of illicit drugs including THC, the active component in cannabis, methamphetamines and ecstasy.
The procedure for random roadside drug testing is:
- drivers are asked to provide a saliva sample by placing a small absorbent pad on their tongue for a few seconds
- the sample is analysed at the roadside, this takes about 3 minutes
- drivers with a positive result are asked to undertake a further test
- if this test is also positive, the sample is sent to a laboratory for confirmation
- the results of this lab test form the basis for charging the driver Any driver may be asked to take a saliva test at any time. The saliva tests do not detect prescription drugs or common medications such as cold and flu tablets.
If your saliva sample returns a positive result you will face penalties. There are different penalties depending on if its your first offence or if you have been caught before. The minimum penalty is a 6 month loss of licence, a hefty fine and compulsory completion of a Drug Driver Program.
You can view the penalties here
Like alcohol, many drugs reduce a driver's ability to have full control of a motor vehicle. Drugs have different and profound effects on a person's mood and behaviour depending on the type of drug involved.
Safe driving requires:
- clear vision
- physical coordination
- quick reactions
- the ability to make the right decisions under pressure
We have listed below some illegal drugs and their effect on driving:
- Cannabis - can slow down a person's reaction time, distort perception of speed and distance and reduce concentration and coordination when driving.
- Heroin - users usually will be drowsy for several hours; mental function is clouded; heart function slows; and breathing is also severely slowed, sometimes enough to be life-threatening. Spatial awareness and cognitive impairment can impact the driver’s ability to perform the complex task of driving.
- Methamphetamine (ICE), ecstasy, cocaine - can lead to over-confidence, rash decision making and risk taking. Insomnia caused from ICE and cocaine use can affect a driver's reflex and concentration.
- Hallucinogens - affect hearing and sight as well as the perception of time, distance and movement, and they can make a person sense things that don't exist.
Multiple drug use - using a combination of drugs can lead to extreme and varied effects such as dramatically slowed reaction times, visual distortion, inability to judge speeds and distances, and risk taking.
Visit the The Alcohol and Drug Foundation for more information on the specific drugs and their effect on driving.
If you or someone you know needs support:
Directline: 1800 888 236
Family Drug Support: 1300 368 186
Q. Where/ when can we expect to see Victoria Police enforcing drug driving?
A. Victoria Police will be targeting illegal behaviours on the roads across metro and regional Victoria on any given time or day of the week. Victoria Police presence may not always be overtly visible, operating from unmarked police cars as well as marked vehicles.
Q. Is there anywhere the public can get information on how long illicit substances remain in your system?
A. The best place to find up-to-date information in the Alcohol & Drug Foundation website. Here you will find the answers to most drug-related questions, including how police can also test for impairment.
Q. How long after taking an illicit drug will you provide a negative result?
A. This is dependent on the person, much like alcohol, people metabolise substances at different rates. It is impossible to say with any accuracy how long a drug remains in a person’s system, we can only provide a guide. For more information please visit the Alcohol & Drug Foundation website.
Q. Will you get a positive result if someone nearby is smoking cannabis (second hand smoke)?
A. This is highly unlikely. The test uses a saliva sample, so the probability of second hand smoke affecting a saliva sample is low.
Q. "Drugs can remain in your system long after the night is over." Does that mean some drivers will return a positive reading even though they are no longer under the influence of these substances?
A. While the driver may no longer feel the effect of the drug, or feel impaired, the drug may still be present in their system. For example, someone who takes an illicit drug could feel the high for a few hours, and then ‘come down’ quite some time later and feel drowsy. This is a side-effect of the drugs leaving their system after the high and is still impairing their ability to drive safely.
Q. Why isn't the law built around people only being under the influence of drugs rather than drugs still being in a person's system?
A. Taking illicit drugs is an illegal act and people often are not in the right state of mind to be making good judgments about their own levels of impairment when under the influence of drugs.
There are different sections of the law to deal with both of these scenarios:
- Exceed PCD (oral fluid).This offence is when the oral fluid sample of a driver simply contains this illicit substance. This results in 3-month suspension for a first offence.
- Drive while impaired by drugs (Impairment assessment and blood sample) Certificate of Drug effect by approved expert. 12 months disqualification.
Q. What about prescription medication?
A: If you have taken prescription medication, whether legally or illegally, you should be aware of the potential risks while driving. If you are feeling drowsy, aggressive, dizzy, nauseous, light-headed or shaky, it can be dangerous to drive as this may for instance impair your vision.
If taking prescribed or over-the-counter medication, always:
- Read the labels carefully and obey the directions and warnings.
- Ask a doctor or pharmacist if it’s likely to affect your driving.
- Arrange alternative transport.