Random roadside drug testing was seen as a key action point in the Government’s Road to Zero strategy but without adequate saliva test kits being available at present, the plan is being delayed, despite new drug driving legislation coming into effect soon.
The plan was to begin random roadside drug testing of saliva from 11 March this year but Road to Zero director Bryan Sherritt told Dewi Preece of 1 News that “an appropriate device could not be found following the procurement and testing process”.
Associate Transport Minister Kiri Allan confirmed the delay. The police have advised her that roadside drug testing kits do not yet exist with the level of accuracy they require.
The Land Transport (Drug Driving) Amendment Act takes effect on March 11, and while new offences and infringements will come into force, the police won’t have all the tools they envisaged at their disposal.
The NZ Drug Foundation’s Sarah Helm said postponing roadside drug testing was appropriate given the required technology is not yet to hand. It’s not that drug testing saliva kits aren’t available because some Australian police forces use them but the New Zealand authorities evidently require more stringent tests.
Kiri Allen said that the aim is to minimise harm from drug driving and the government remains committed to that.
It was evident six months ago that there were “challenges with implementing this legislation” and that continues to be the case but Bryan Sherritt said the authorities will eventually roll out roadside drug testing.
Until such time, police will continue identifying drug drivers using their compulsory impairment test (CIT), with subsequent blood testing for confirmation.