Drug driving shock as regular testing begins
IN THE month since the Dalby Road Policing unit started roadside drug testing in the South Burnett, an alarming number of drivers testing positive for drugs has emerged.
Senior Constables Jade Miller and Brendan Seymour caught a staggering 23 drug drivers.
"The South Burnett area has one of the highest incidences of drug driving in the state," Sen Const Miller said. In the 12 months from July 1, 2014, to June 20, 2015, police conducted 20,389 drug tests across the state and 3178 returned positive results.
Until recently, roadside drug testing, using the "lick stick", was only conducted in the South Burnett when the Roadside Drug Testing Unit visited from Brisbane.
Now the two road policing officers based in Kingaroy have been trained and can conduct the tests whenever, and wherever, they choose.
The saliva-based tests can detect THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, methyl amphetamine, also known as speed or ice, and MDMA, the active ingredient in ecstasy.
"It's almost as common now to be tested for drugs as for alcohol," Sen Const Miller said.
"Unlike drink driving when most people are allowed to have a reading below 0.05%, with drug driving there is a zero tolerance, so they can't have any trace at all of drugs in their system.
"And what we've found is they might smoke a joint and when we test them a couple of days later they still have residue in system.
"It can take up to a week to get some of these drugs out of the system."
Sen Const Miller often hears excuses from drug drivers, like "I'm just going down the road", "I've lived here for 20 years, I know the road," and "I felt OK to drive".
But he said excuses like these did not reduce the risk these drivers posed to themselves and other users.
"How you feel is not an indication of what's in your system," he said.
"Ultimately we want them to stay off the roads and seek support if they have a problem with drugs."
If you have problems with drug addiction, phone the Alcohol and Drug Foundation Queensland on 38340200 or visit www.adfq.org.
First-time drug driving offenders face:
- Fines up to $1593
- Up to three months in prison
- Driver's licence disqualifications for up to three months