Survey - Does NZ have highest drugged drivers

By ~lostgurl~ · Sep 24, 2007 · ·
  1. ~lostgurl~
    Survey - Does NZ have highest drugged drivers

    Monday, 24 September 2007
    Press Release: Candor Trust

    Provisional results of a Candor Trust road side survey of 200 Kapiti Coast and Hutt Valley drivers, completed on Monday, found 1 in 6 of the drivers were affected by the recent use of recreational drugs or tranquillisers.

    This rate compares poorly even to recent findings of 1 driver in 10 under influence of illicits in the worst affected area of Western Australia - Newcastle, and has serious implications for road safety.

    The drivers from a random sample stopping for gas or groceries were all drug tested using a saliva drug test.

    Drivers were curious to try the tests which normally cost $25 and detect thc, opiates and P. Some of the drug drivers expressed having bizarre ideas about their driving "abilities," of an ilk that could land them in metal coffins. One subject, with a "girl next door" appearance who drove a sporty model revealed that she challenges herself to make it from Wellington to the Upper Hutt turn off in 10 minutes, just for fun when on P. She's come close.

    Families should not have to share roads with people who genuinely believe red light running is safe for them due to heightened perception, or some drug related psychic ability, say Candor.

    Also of major concern was the fact that a couple of drug users said they'd driven after a week wide awake.

    Most drug drivers interviewed also reported breezing through checkpoints, whilst being noticeably drug affected. When an erratic driver passes an alcohol breathalyser test, Police can only proceed with road side fitness tests like "walking the white line" if the person they've got reservations about agrees. When they don't agree, the person is free to drive away, unless they've committed an arrestable offence (apart from impaired driving). The same goes for checkpoints, drug users are immune. This "stepping aside" is dangerous and tantamount to pulling the pin on a live grenade, say Candor. While mates and Police don't let people drive drunk, drug impairment is clearly OK and the taboo around it's discussion continues.

    The situation of Police's dependency on drug drivers to "give themselves up" likely explains why the ESR's drug driving study showed 1/2 the young drivers to die in the year to June 2005 were drugged.

    The Land Transport Amendment Bill if passed would give Police the powers they need to bring drug driving charges, by making refusal to partake in drug impairment testing as illegal as evading alcohol screening.

    Candor is happy Mrs King has quietly worked away at bringing Labour's Bill forward, which aims to fix loopholes in the current law in line with other Countries. However, possible stalling of the Bills progress by the Pharmaceutical lobby is seen as a filthy ploy.

    The UK is heeding best evidence in putting this whole issue ahead of lower blood alcohol limits, since there's far more to be gained in toll reductions. Type specifications for drug testing gear are going out to UK tenders this month.

    An overwhealming majority of survey participants considered that drug driving is a significant problem that needs attention. Support also came from many introspective drug users, as they'd "seen the results". "We're saddened by the result, our roads being awash with drugs help to explain why our road safety statistics make us the road safety ghetto of the OECD" says Trust Co-ordinatort Rachael Ford.

    "If Police want to save lives they will accept the Green's drug driving bill clause disallowing blood evidence to be used under the M.D.A - our survey subjects said Police are soft on drug driving, we think that is more serious than possession."

    "The question is what are our drug laws trying to achieve; harm minimisation or not?"

    The full survey report and statistical analyses will be available from the Candor Trust within a few weeks.

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  1. ~lostgurl~
    Greens concerned over drugged driving law

    Greens concerned over drugged driving law

    Mon, 24 Sep 2007
    TV3 News

    The Green Party has concerns that a law change, cracking down on drugged drivers, will be misused by police as a way to get drugs convictions.

    The Government is drafting a bill that proposes making driving while under the influence of illegal drugs an offence - similar to drink-driving.

    But, without support from the Greens the legislation is unlikely to become law.

    The party's drug and alcohol spokesperson Metiria Turei wants a provision put in place stopping the legislation from being used as a back door to getting drugs convictions.

    But she says the Greens will support a change if its focus is getting dangerous drivers off the road.
  2. ~lostgurl~
    Drug-driving bill will pass first hurdle

    Drug-driving bill will pass first hurdle - King

    Monday, 24 September 2007
    The Dominion Post

    Transport Minister Annette King says she is confident she has the numbers to get to a select committee legislation that will crack down on drivers impaired with drugs.

    The Government announced last December it would introduce legislation this year that would make it an offence to drive while impaired with illegal drugs.

    A spokesman for Ms King told NZPA the minister expected to table the legislation soon. She was confident she had the support to get the bill to a select committee for scrutiny, the spokesman said.

    The Dominion Post reported today that wrangling between the Greens and New Zealand First meant it was unclear whether the bill would get enough support to pass into law.

    It understood the Greens had insisted on a provision being added to prevent evidence gathered during blood-testing of impaired drivers being used for any other purpose including prosecution under the Misuse of Drugs Act.

    The newspaper said it was unlikely NZ First would support such a move and that the Government would need the support of both parties to push the legislation through Parliament.

    But if National backs the legislation, the Government will not need the support of those smaller parties to get the bill through Parliament.
    National's transport spokesman Maurice Williamson told NZPA today that his party had not yet seen the bill so it had not been to the its caucus for discussion.

    But the party would support any legislation that helped make the road safer, provided it was based on evidence the measure would work, he said.
    Green MP Metiria Turei told NZPA that legislation that took unsafe drivers off the road was very important and the Greens wanted to support it.

    But the party did not believe there should be a distinction between legal and illegal drugs. So, if a driver was impaired for driving because of their use of prescription drugs, they too should be caught in the net.

    Under the legislation, if a driver failed a physical test, they would be required to provide a blood test. If that blood test showed illegal drugs, they would be prosecuted.

    If people still drove despite warnings on packaging that their prescription drugs could impair their driving, they too should come under the legislation, Ms Turei said. "If a person is unsafe to drive they should be off the road."
    Ms Turei said the Greens were concerned that because the legislation was only focused on illegal drugs, it could become a "back door" way of getting drug convictions.

    Police had powers under the Misuse of Drugs Act "to stop cars, to search them without a warrant, to search the people without a warrant and search bags without a warrant".

    "If it (the new legislation) was focused on drug impairment, whether legal or illegal, it wouldn't be a back door way to using the Misuse of Drugs Act," she said. She had spoken to the Government which said there were "practical hurdles" that would need to be addressed if legal drugs were also covered by the legislation. It was much easier to test for selected illegal drugs. "But if the law provides for it, then as the technology developed ... the legal framework would work as new tests became available," she said.
    NZ First did not want any provision that could stop there being an additional drug conviction, she said.

    She understood negotiations were continuing on the final shape of the bill.
    Ms King said last December the Government would create a new offence making it illegal to drive "while impaired by illegal drugs".

    The same roadside impairment test used for alcohol would be applied when police officers suspected a driver was impaired by illegal drug use. The compulsory roadside test includes an eye examination, a balance test, a walk and turn test and other similar tasks.

    If drivers failed that roadside test, they would be required to provide an evidential blood test and could be charged on the basis of that.

    Ministry of Transport figures released at the time showed drugs were suspected in 36 crashes in the year to December 31, 2005. Drugs were proven in three crashes. There were 383 crashes where alcohol was suspected.

    - NZPA
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