Greens call for repeal and reform of Roadside Drug Testing, announce $100k for voluntary breath testing and drink driving education at festivals and events

NSW Greens MP and spokesperson on drug law reform Cate Faehrmann has today declared the current roadside drug testing regime in NSW has nothing to do with improving road safety and is simply an extension of the failed war on drugs.

Along with Member for Ballina, Tamara Smith, and Greens candidate for Lismore, Sue Higginson, she has called for an end to roadside drug testing until an evidence based roadside drug testing programme is introduced that actually tests for impairment, rather than simply presence of drugs.  This announcement is in contrast to the National Party who have announced a doubling of mobile drug testing.

Data from the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research reveals that NSW Police are disproportionately targeting the Northern Rivers with the rate of drug driving convictions in the Richmond - Tweed area the highest in the state, at 470 per 100,000 population - more than five times the NSW average of 92.9. The Greens call to repeal and reform roadside drug testing does not apply to roadside breath testing for alcohol which is evidence-based and effective.

The Greens will also announce support for $100,000 per year in additional government funding in the Northern Rivers to reduce drink driving associated with festivals and events.  The funding would be used to support:

  • the mandatory provision of free breathalysers at all festivals and large events
  • peer-to-peer drink driving education, and
  • youth spaces such as chill out zones at festivals & events with patrons under 18

NSW Greens MP and spokesperson on drug law reform Cate Faehrmann said:

Roadside drug testing in NSW is arbitrary and unreliable.  The regime in NSW has nothing to do with improving road safety and is simply an extension of the failed war on drugs.

“We know that drugs like marijuana will stay in people’s system for days, or even weeks, after consumption.  This means drivers are being convicted despite no evidence of impairment or threat to road safety.

“That is why the Greens are calling for an end to roadside drug testing until an evidence based roadside drug testing programme is introduced that actually tests for impairment, rather than simply presence of drugs.”

Greens Member for Ballina Tamara Smith said:

“Whilst the Greens support evidenced-based policing that detects and targets drug-impaired drivers on the road, in NSW we have a system that targets drivers who may not actually be impaired. “

“The war on drugs in NSW has been extended to roadside drug testing where the mere presence of a drug rather than an impairment test is being used to arrest drug users who may have imbibed weeks before the test but the substance is still in their system. “

“ The question needs to be asked - Is a driver who has smoked a joint a week ago an impaired driver? Let’s use the science to find out the answer and then communicate that to the public so that they can make informed choices about driving and ingesting drugs and alcohol. “

Greens candidate for Lismore Sue Higginson said:

“The current regime is having perverse consequences here in our region. It is unfairly wrecking people’s lives, clogging up our courts, costing enormous amounts of money and wasting police resources.

“It’s time to acknowledge it’s not working and put the regime on hold until we have developed a mechanism for impairment testing that would actually achieve the purpose of a sound RDT regime, namely to make our roads safer.”


Contacts:

Cate Faehrmann - 0412 207 043

Tamara Smith - Jacob Miller, 0428 837 292

Sue Higginson - 0428 227 363

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