Government calls for public input over drug driving tests

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Words: Nile Bijoux
15 May 2019

The Government is asking for public opinion on roadside testing for drug driving.

The consultation call follows another petition urging the Government to begin random roadside drug testing which was spearheaded by the family of south Taranaki crash victims.

Matthew Dow was killed in an accident involving a driver high on meth, while Logan Porteous lost his parents and aunt in a separate crash where one driver had taken synthetic cannabis. Karen Dow, Matthew’s mother, called drug driving an “epidemic” in New Zealand.

Associate Transport Minister, Julie Anne Genter, said that the law currently makes it difficult for police to carry out enough tests to deter drug driving.

She said that drug tests can only detect the presence of drugs or medication. They cannot test if a driver is impaired.

Between January 2014 and May 2018, 29 per cent of drivers killed in crashes had used alcohol, 27 per cent had used cannabis and 10 per cent had used methamphetamine. According to Police Minister Stuart Nash, 71 people were killed in crashes where the driver was found to have had enough drugs to impair their driving.

Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters said that while the Government was “seriously considering” introducing drug driving tests, it needed to ensure it had the utilities to accurately carry out the tests.

The Government’s public drug-driving consultation will ask for feedback on test methods, drug testing circumstances, what drugs should be tested and how a drug driving test should be dealt with by police. Consultation will end on June 28. Following this, the Government will “confirm its options at the end of the year.”

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