Next year, Kiwi motorists can expect to see random roadside drug testing in a new push to reduce drug-induced accidents.
Testing rolls out in early 2023 and will be similar to the random breath testing stations. Drivers who test positive will be fined and suspended from driving for 12 hours.
The scheme will be reviewed in three years.
“Our Government is committed to reducing the serious harm that comes from driving under the influence of drugs,” Transport Minister Michael Wood said.
Over 100 people were killed in crashes last year where a driver was found with drugs in their system.
“These are preventable tragedies,” Wood said.
Roadside drug testing is part of a $1.2 billion investment by the New Zealand Government to increase road policing in the community and cut death tolls.
“Driving under the influence of drugs is a major safety issue on our roads, and this legislation shows that our Government is doing something about it,” Police Minister Poto Williams said.
“By targeting this high-risk behaviour, we can reduce the trauma caused by drug-impaired driving.”
The legislation only aims to deter those with drugs in their system from driving. It is not an instrument Police will use to arrest drug users.
“The tool can’t be used for detecting illicit substances and used outside the context of people who are driving their vehicles,” Wood said.
During the bill’s third and final Parliament reading, National’s Transport spokesperson Simeon Brown said his party agreed with the proposal.
However, he rhetorically questioned the government on whether the police have enough resources to carry out the task effectively.
“Last year, the police delivered half of the required 3 million breath tests on our roads; 1.5 million were delivered against a target of 3 million.
“So the reality is there will be serious questions which need to be asked to make sure that they’re able to deliver on those targets on this piece of legislation.”