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Research Note - Road Safety Amendment Bill 2015 Part 1 - Drug Driving

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Executive summary

The Road Safety Amendment Bill 2015 was introduced on 23 June 2015 to 'create a regime where a driver of a motor vehicle that is involved in an accident resulting in serious injury or death must undergo a drug test'.[footnote 1] The Bill also makes changes to the hoon driving regime to allow Victoria Police to recoup costs for the impoundment and immobilisation scheme, to clarify under what circumstances exceptional hardship can be considered by the court (when hearing an impoundment, immobilisation or forfeiture order), and other matters.

This Research Note has been divided into two parts to provide background and resources on two aspects of the Road Safety Amendment Bill 2015. This Research Note (no. 2) will address the proposed changes to drug driving legislation, providing a history of roadside drug testing, a background on the increased prevalence of the drug 'ice' (crystal methylamphetamine) and an examination of road safety legislative frameworks in selected other jurisdictions. Readers are advised to refer to Research Note no. 3 which addresses the proposed changes to hoon driving laws, with reference to the legislative framework in selected other jurisdictions.

Drug driving

The Victoria Police Annual Report 2013-2014, tabled in Parliament in October 2014, stated that 42,780 prohibited drug screening tests were conducted in the 2013-14 financial year.[footnote 2] Comparatively, the number of alcohol screening tests during this period was 1,150,524.[footnote 3] As noted in the report: 'For all alcohol tests conducted, 99.8 per cent of drivers returned a clear result, and 92.2 per cent of drivers returned a clear result for drugs'.[footnote 4] The Transport Accident Commission website states that in the last five years 'approximately 37% of all drivers and motorcyclists killed had drugs in their system'.[footnote 5]

In his Second Reading Speech, the Hon. Wade Noonan, Minister for Police, stated that the Bill fixes a 'loophole' to give the courts and police greater powers in dealing with drivers with drugs in their systems when involved in serious motor vehicle accidents.[footnote 6] The Minister cited the tragic case of a fatal car crash at a Docklands intersection.[footnote 7] The Minister said:

In February 2014, a passenger was killed and her partner seriously injured when their car was hit by the driver of a ute that ran a red light in Docklands. A swab sample was taken from the driver, which was positive for ice and amphetamines; however, he refused to provide a blood sample. The current legislation did not allow the driver to be compelled to take a drug test and, as he was not injured himself, he was not admitted to hospital, where a mandatory blood sample would have been taken. A blood test would have provided evidence of the quantity of drugs in his system. Police discovered 50 grams of ice in the driver's vehicle; however, there was no evidence available to show that drug use contributed to his driving at the time. The driver was therefore convicted of dangerous driving causing death, whereas if a blood test had been available to support the contention that he was under the influence of drugs, he would have been charged with culpable driving causing death, which has a maximum penalty of 20 years imprisonment. If released on parole, that driver may be back on the streets in 20 months.[footnote 8]

Specifically, the Bill inserts new section 55BA into the Road Safety Act 1986 to allow for a police officer who reasonably believes a person who was driving or in charge of a vehicle involved in an accident resulting in death or serious injury to require that person to give a blood sample for analysis. The person is required to give that sample if requested to do so within three hours of the accident, and faces a penalty of 12 penalty units (currently $1,820.04[footnote 9]) for any obstruction of a health professional attempting to take the sample.[footnote 10]

Methylamphetamine

Methylamphetamine, also known as 'methamphetamine' or 'meth', is a synthetic drug which is 'a more potent form of the drug amphetamine'.[footnote 11] Methylamphetamine was one of two drugs (along with cannabis) that formed the first drugs tested in roadside drug driving saliva testing in Victoria. At that time methylamphetamine was primarily used in the powder form commonly known as 'speed'. It also comes in the form of tablets, crystal and oil.[footnote 12] According to the National Drug Strategy Household Survey 2013:

In 2013 there was a change in the main form of meth/amphetamines used with ice replacing powder as the preferred form of the drug. Among recent users, powder decreased from 51% to 29% while the use of ice more than doubled, from 22% in 2010 to 50% in 2013.[footnote 13]

The National Drug Strategy Household Survey 2013 also noted that crystal methylamphetamine users used the drug more frequently than those using the powdered form.[footnote 14] Crystal methylamphetamine is often used for longer periods than other drugs and is highly addictive. The Australian Crime Commission factsheet notes that 'there is also a greater tendency toward poly-drug use, increasing the pool of methylamphetamine users'.[footnote 15]

Explanatory timeline

The State of Victoria has often led legislative reform in the area of road safety, such as the mandatory wearing of seatbelts (1970), the 0.05 per cent limit in blood alcohol concentration, random breath testing (1976) and random roadside drug saliva tests (2004). Below are key dates in the evolution of drug driving legislation, as well as background to contextualise the development of policies designed to control the use of the drug 'ice' (crystal methylamphetamine).

1976 – Victoria was the first state to legislate random breath testing.

1996 – the Victorian Government held a Drug Driving Parliamentary Road Safety Committee Inquiry. Their report, Inquiry into Effects of Drugs (Other than Alcohol) on Road Safety in Victoria, detailed 40 recommendations including a new offence of 'driving while impaired'.[footnote 16] In the background to the report, it was noted:

Current Victorian laws are ineffective as police do not have the power to require blood or urine samples from drivers suspected of being drug-affected. Police told the Committee in evidence that they were therefore reluctant to prosecute drivers in this situation.[footnote 17]

See also the Victorian Government Response.[footnote 18]

March 2000Road Safety (Amendment) Bill 2000 was introduced in March and passed in April. It gave effect to the recommendations of the Road Safety Committee including specifying the procedure to identify impaired drivers and the power to take blood from suspected drug-drivers. The procedure introduced in the Act required the Victorian Police to use the Standard Impairment Assessment (SIA) for drug detection. As noted in a report by DrugInfo Clearinghouse:

The SIA is a structured and systematic assessment that is carried out by trained police officers. The assessment consists of four components: interview and observation (a standardised series of questions that examine the circumstances that led to the detainment of the suspect, as well as recent history of illness, injury, medical treatment and drug use); physical impairment test; information review process; and opinion on the presence of impairment. The physical impairment test consists of the horizontal gaze nystagmus, the walk and turn test, and the one leg stand test. These tests allow impairment to be identified at a level that is equivalent to the impairment at a BAC of 0.05 per cent or above. When impairment is identified by the officer, a blood or urine sample is taken to confirm the decision.[footnote 19]

October 2003 – the Road Safety (Drug Driving) Bill 2003 was introduced (it passed on 2 December 2003).[footnote 20] This Bill provided random roadside saliva-based testing for the two illicit drugs methylamphetamine and 'delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol', also known as 'Delta 9 THC', which is the active component of cannabis. In his Second Reading Speech, the Hon. Peter Batchelor, Minister for Transport, stated that speed and cannabis were selected because:

… there is clear evidence that drivers using these drugs are at increased risk of causing crashes; they are the impairing substances with the highest incidence, after alcohol, in the blood of fatally injured drivers; neither THC nor methylamphetamine are found in any Australian prescription medicines; and they can be reliably detected in oral fluid samples of drivers at the time that they will adversely affect a driver's ability to drive safely.[footnote 21]

December 2004 – Victoria Police commenced a pilot of roadside drug saliva testing for cannabis and methylamphetamines. The trial was for an initial 12-month period under the Road Safety (Drug Driving) Act 2003. The TAC drug driving campaigns were also launched to support roadside drug testing. As noted in the Law Reform, Drugs and Crime Prevention Committee's Inquiry into the Supply and Use of Methamphetamines, Particularly 'Ice', in Victoriathis was 'the first roadside drug saliva testing program in Australia, with other jurisdictions subsequently implementing comparable initiatives (Tasmania in 2005, NSW, QLD and WA in 2007, NT in 2008, and ACT in 2010)'.[footnote 22]

In 2004, a review of drug impaired driving legislation by VicRoads Road Safety Department noted that throughout 2000-2003, 70 per cent of drivers who had blood taken on suspicion of being drug impaired had more than one drug detected (known as 'polydrug use').[footnote 23] Furthermore, the review noted that despite the detections, drug driving remained a key issue and 'for the first time [footnote in 2001] drug driving was a factor in more driver fatalities than drink driving'.[footnote 24]

May 2006 – the Road Safety (Drugs) Act 2006was passed, giving roadside drug testing permanent/ongoing status. The Road Safety (Drugs) Act 2006also allowed for the testing of ecstasy (referred to in the Act as '3, 4-Methylenedioxy-N-Methylamphetamine (MDMA)'). This legislation came into effect on 1 September 2006.

February 2014 – as mentioned on page 2 of this Research Note, a fatal car accident in a Docklands intersection was caused by a driver under the influence of methylamphetamines and amphetamines who ran a red traffic light which was reportedly 'red for about 6.7 seconds'.[footnote 25]

June 2014 – Combined drink and drug driving charges, created by the Road Safety Amendment Bill 2014, were passed in June.[footnote 26] The Bill made several changes to the alcohol interlock program, vehicle impoundment scheme, motorcycle BAC limits, as well as creating a new offence for driving under the combined influence of alcohol and illicit drugs. In the Second Reading Speech for the Bill, the Hon. Terry Mulder, Minister for Roads, stated:

Research indicates that when drivers combine alcohol and illicit drugs they are on average 23 times more likely to be killed in a crash compared with drivers who are drug and alcohol free.[footnote 27]

For a detailed examination of that Bill see the Parliamentary Library's Research Notes on the Road Safety Amendment Bill 2014.[footnote 28]

As noted in the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing report Treatment Approaches for Users of Methamphetamine: A Practical Guide for Frontline Workers (2008), mixing drugs and alcohol and different kinds of drugs can have a range of effects:

Methamphetamine can stop people from feeling drunk after drinking alcohol, even when blood alcohol levels are high. Therefore, the risk of accident and injury is increased, as is the potential for driving while intoxicated.[footnote 29]

In June 2014, the Penington Institute report (The Impacts of Methamphetamine in Victoria: A Community Assessment) written for the Victorian Department of Health was released addressing community impacts, medical and psychological consequences of methamphetamine use in Victoria.[footnote 30] The report noted that the increasing prevalence and availability of the drug ice 'was becoming apparent at least as early as 2012'.[footnote 31]

July 2014 – key national findings from the National Drug Strategy Household Survey 2013, a survey which is conducted every 2-3 years and published by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, were released online.[footnote 32] The full detailed report was published in November 2014. This report, mentioned above, reported 'no rise' in methamphetamine use in 2013 but a 'change in the main form', resulting in the use of crystal methamphetamine ('ice') more than doubling and a decrease in use of the powder form ('speed') of methamphetamine.

September 2014 – the Law Reform, Drugs and Crime Prevention Committee tabled their Inquiry into the Supply and Use of Methamphetamines, Particularly 'Ice', in Victoria.[footnote 33] The report made several recommendations, including that the Victorian Government establish a Ministerial Council on Methamphetamine comprising representatives from a range of Ministries to 'allow for the coordination and resourcing of methamphetamine-related issues'. The Government Response was tabled on 17 May 2015.[footnote 34]

October 2014 – the Road Safety Amendment (Mandatory Drug Testing) Bill 2014 was introduced in the Legislative Council to make it mandatory 'for a person who has been involved in a motor vehicle accident occasioning serious injury or fatality to be tested for drugs, regardless of whether they go to a medical facility for treatment or not'. The Bill also included heroin as a drug to be tested by roadside drug testing. As the Bill was introduced in the last sitting week of the 57th Parliament, prior to the November 2014 Victorian State Election, the Bill lapsed.[footnote 35]

December 2014 – shortly after taking government following the November 2014 State Election, the Andrews Government announced the establishment of an Ice Action Taskforce.[footnote 36]

5 March 2015 – The Victorian Government released their Ice Action Plan.[footnote 37] $45.5 million has been pledged, including $15 million for new drug and booze buses.[footnote 38] According to a July government media release, this $15 million will provide ten new drug and booze which will 'let police test 100,000 people a year for drugs'.[footnote 39]

18March 2015 – the Commonwealth Parliamentary Joint Committee on Law Enforcement began an inquiry into crystal methamphetamine (ice).[footnote 40]

25 March 2015 – the Australian Crime Commission (ACC) report The Australian Methylamphetamine Market: The National Picture was published. The report noted that 'of all illicit drugs' methylamphetamine, particularly crystal methylamphetamine, 'poses the highest risk to the Australian community and is of significant national concern'.[footnote 41]

April 2015 – A National Ice Taskforce was announced by the Prime Minister on 8 April 2015.[footnote 42] The Premier welcomed the national taskforce.[footnote 43]

June 2015 – the Sentencing Advisory Council (SAC) released their report Major Driving Offences: Current Sentencing Practices, which examined sentencing for the four major driving offences in Victorian courts over seven years to July 2013.[footnote 44] These offences, contained in the Crimes Act 1958are: culpable driving causing death (s 319(1)); dangerous driving causing death (s 318(1)); negligently causing serious injury (where driving related) (s 24); and, dangerous driving causing serious injury (s 319(1A)).

On the offence of culpable driving causing death, the report stated:

Comparatively few cases involved drug-affected drivers (17%) and where drug affected, the most common drug was cannabis (6% of all cases, 33% of drug-affected offenders). Although there has been substantial commentary and concern expressed in relation to the use of methylamphetamine/ice, that drug was present in only 4 cases over the reference period (4% of all cases, 22% of drug-affected offenders).[footnote 45]

In a media article about the report, Road Policing Superintendent Deb Robertson noted that while speed, driver error and fatigue still dominated in the causes for major collisions, 'drug driving is increasing', that the five year police data 'shows that methamphetamine is now far more common than any other type of drug' and that 74.5 per cent of the 3500 drivers who tested positive for drugs in 2014 were affected by ice.[footnote 46]

The report also showed that drivers received a median sentence far below the maximum penalty.[footnote 47] For example, the maximum penalty for 'culpable driving causing death' is 20 years (Level 3). Out of the 84 per cent of these charges resulting in imprisonment, the median imprisonment was 5 years and 6 months. For the offence of 'dangerous driving causing death', out of the 36 per cent of these charges that resulted in imprisonment, the median imprisonment imposed was three years (the maximum penalty for this offence is 10 years, Level 5). A higher percentage of sentence outcomes for 'dangerous driving causing death' resulted in a 'wholly suspended sentence' (42 per cent).[footnote 48]

August 2015 – The new combined drink and drug driving charges, created by the Road Safety Amendment Act 2014, come into effect on 1 August 2015.[footnote 49] Acting Minister for Roads and Road Safety, the Hon. Natalie Hutchins stated that the new offences created through this legislation are 'an Australian first'.[footnote 50]

Further resources on roadside drug testing

Media releases and news articles

§ New Victorian impoundment laws exclude drug drivers / K. Irving, The Courier, 3 July 2015

§ New Insights into the Sentencing of Major Driving Offenders / Sentencing Advisory Council, media release, 30 June 2015

§ Drink-drivers with readings over 0.1 to have cars impounded under new Victorian laws / ABC News, 15 June 2015

§ Jump in number of truck drivers testing positive for ice concerns police / A. Carey, The Age, 7 April 2015

§ Drug-drivers now more prominent than drink-drivers with 30pc of fatal road accidents involving drugs, research says / T. Bowden, ABC News, 23 March 2015

§ Police to double roadside drug testing in Victoria as state road toll increases / ABC News, 1 January 2015

§ Repeat drug drivers avoid prison because magistrates are unable to jail them / A. Devic, Herald Sun, 23 December 2014

§ Victoria Police get $4.5m to double number of roadside drug tests / ABC News, 3 September 2014

§ Drug Drivers on Ice the Target of TAC Campaign/ Transport Accident Commission, media release, 14 August 2014

TV & Radio

§ TV and radio clips regarding methamphetamines (ice), drug driving and hoon driving

Organisations & websites

§ Victoria Police Road Safety Strategy 2013-2018 / Victoria Police

§ Victoria Police Road Safety Action Plan 2013-2018 / Victoria Police

§ Drug driving / Road Safety Victoria

§ Road safety statistical summary and searchable road trauma statistics / Transport Accident Commission

§ Alcohol, drugs and the law / Victoria Police

§ The facts about roadside drug testing / DrugInfo (2010)

§ Ice Action Plan / Department of Premier and Cabinet

§ Taking Action, Stopping Ice / Victorian Government website

§ Drug driving campaign / Transport Accident Commission

§ Drug driving / Transport Accident Commission Victoria YouTube channel

§ Double Bus Campaign / Transport Accident Commission

§ National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre / NCPIC

§ Australian Drug Foundation / ADF

§ Victoria's Road Safety Strategy 2013-2022 / Road Safety Victoria

§ Stop Drugged Driving (US lobby group)

§ Drug-driving penalties / VicRoads


Journal articles, reports, parliamentary submissions and conference papers:

§ Reviews of the effectiveness of random drug testing in Australia: the absence of crash-based evaluations / M.R.J. Baldock & J.E. Woolley, Centre for Automotive Safety Research, University of Adelaide, conference proceedings, 2013 Australasian Road Safety Research, Policing and Education Conference, Brisbane, Queensland

§ Drivers who test positive for drugs have triple the risk of fatal car crash / ScienceDaily, Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, 25 September 2013

§ Attitudes and perceptions towards drug driving amongst a sample of cannabis using police detainees / J. Payne, J. Sweeney & S. Macgregor, no. 8, May 2013, Australian Institute of Criminology, Australian Government

§ Driving under the influence of cannabis: a brief review of the literature / National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre, published February 2009, updated September 2013

§ Evaluating the deterrent effect of random breath testing (RBT) and random drug testing (RDT) – The driver's perspective: Research Findings / K. Papafotiou Owens & M. Boorman, National Drug Law Enforcement Research Fund, Monograph Series No. 41, 2011

§ 'Why has it only become an issue now?' Young drug users' perceptions of drug driving in Melbourne, Victoria / L. A. Wilson & D. Wilson, Youth Studies Australia, vol. 29, no. 1, 2010

§ The policy context of roadside drug testing / D. McDonald, Journal of Australasian College of Road Safety, vol. 99, pp. 37-43, February 2009

§ Drug driving in Victoria / Victoria Police submission to the Federal Parliamentary Inquiry into the effects of illicit drugs on families, submission no. 175, 2007

§ Drugs and Driving in Australia: A Survey of Community Attitudes, Experience and Understanding / Australian Drug Foundation, 2007

§ 'Rushing behind the wheel': Investigating the prevalence of 'drug driving' among club and rave patrons in Melbourne, Australia / C. Duff & B. Rowland, Drugs: Education, Prevention and Policy, vol. 13, no. 4, August 2006

§ Driving, drug use behaviour and risk perceptions of nightclub attendees in Victoria, Australia / L. Degenhardt et. al., International Journal of Drug Policy, vol. 17, 2006

§ Drink Driving and Drug Driving / R. Johns, NSW Parliamentary Library Research Service, 2004

§ Cannabis and driving: A review of current evidence / M. Lenne, T. Triggs & M. Regan, Accident Research Centre, Monash University, 2001

§ Drink and drug driving: what's the skipper up to? / M. Stevenson et. al., Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, December 2001

§ Drug driving: The new offences / W. Walsh-Buckley & J. Marquis, Law Institute Journal, Mar 2001

§ Searching for a missing link / A. Harding, Monash Magazine, Autumn/Winter 2001 (article about how cannabis affects people's judgement and driving)

§ Random Roadside Drug-Testing Program in Victoria / School of Public Health, University of Queensland

§ The evolution of impaired driver law – Victoria / M. Boorman, Victoria Police, conference paper, History of Crime, Policing and Punishment Conference, Canberra, 9-10 December 1999

§ Drugs courts: Issues and prospects / T. Makkai, Trends and Issues in Crime and Criminal Justice, Australian Institute of Criminology, September 1998

§ Alcohol, Drugs and Road Safety / report of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Road Safety, Parliament of Australia, May 1980

§ Fifth progress report: An aspect of the alcohol and drug factor: the desirability of compulsory breath analysis tests for motor car drivers suspected of having a blood alcohol content in excess of .05% / Joint Select Committee on Road Safety, Victorian Parliament, 1971

§ Fourth progress report: An aspect of the alcohol and drug factor: the desirability of compulsory breath analysis tests for motor car drivers suspected of having a blood alcohol content in excess of .05% / Joint Select Committee on Road Safety, Victorian Parliament, 1970

 

Other jurisdictions

This section provides a brief overview of the current framework and development of drug driving legislation in the following jurisdictions: New South Wales, South Australia, Queensland and Western Australia. It also provides resources and recent media in each of these jurisdictions.

New South Wales

Legislation to conduct roadside drug testing was introduced in December 2006 with Road Transport Legislation Amendment (Drug Testing) Bill 2006. NSW currently tests for the active ingredients of the drugs THC (the active ingredient in cannabis), MDMA (the active ingredient in ecstasy) and methylamphetamine (speed and ice). It is also an offence to drive under the influence of cocaine and morphine but these are not tested in the 'oral fluid test' (saliva swab).

The following sections of legislation are particularly relevant:

§ Schedule 1 of the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act 1985 (DMTA) lists prohibited drugs.

§ Part 5.1 of theRoad Transport Act 2013 (RTA) makes drug driving an offence. Under s 111, a person driving or supervising a learner driver while prescribed illicit drugs are in their oral fluid, blood or urine is subject to a maximum penalty of 10 penalty units for a first offence or 20 penalty units for a second or subsequent offence.

§ Division 3 of Schedule 3 of theRoad Transport Act 2013 sets out police powers to conduct 'random oral fluid testing'. A person may be required to submit to one or more oral fluid tests for prescribed illicit drugs if the officer has reasonable cause to suspect that the person was driving on a road, occupying the driver's seat and attempting to put the vehicle in motion, or was supervising a learner driver.

§ Clause 7 of Schedule 3 also sets out that a police officer may exercise the powers to arrest a person without warrant (cl 7(2)(a)) and take the person 'with such force as may be necessary' to a police station and 'there detain the person' (cl 7(2)(b)) or take that person to a hospital or prescribed place and 'there detain the person' (cl 7(2)(c)) for the purpose of taking a blood sample if one or more of the oral fluid tests indicated that there may be illicit drugs present in the person's oral fluid, or if they refuse to submit to an oral fluid test.

§ Clauses 16 and 17 of Schedule 3 set out offences related to the refusal or failure to submit to a breath test, a breath analysis, an oral fluid test, a blood sample, a urine sample or a sobriety assessment.

§ The maximum penalty for refusing or failing to submit to a breath test, oral fluid test or sobriety assessment is 10 penalty units (cl 16(1)(a) of Schedule 3).

§ The maximum penalty for refusing or failing to provide a sample from 30 penalty units or imprisonment for 18 months or both (in the case of a first offence) or 50 penalty units or imprisonment for 2 years or both in the case of a second or subsequent offence (cl 16(1)(b) of Schedule 3).

§ Clause 17(2) of Schedule 3 also states that 'a secondary participant' in an accident must not prevent a sample taker from taking a sample of the person's blood.

§ Clause 11 states that blood samples are to be taken in hospitals from certain accident hospital patients, including where a patient was driving a motor vehicle involved in the accident (cl 11(4)(a) of Schedule 3). Clause 11(2) of Schedule 3 states:

The medical practitioner is under a duty to take the sample whether or not the accident hospital patient consents to the taking of the sample.

§ Clause 12 of Schedule 3 sets out police powers to arrest persons (without warrant) involved in fatal accidents for blood and urine tests.

New South Wales resources

§ Roadside drug testing in New South Wales / P. Rowden, E. Mazurski, D. Withaneachi & M. Stevens, conference paper, Australasian Road Safety Research, Policing and Education Conference, Perth, 2011

§ Review of NSW roadside drug testing / P. Bryant, M. Stevens & G. Hasen, Australasian Road Safety Research, Policing and Education Conference, Sydney, 2009

§ Driving and Clubbing in Sydney: A Study of Drug Use and Risk among Nightclub Attendees / J. Ross, G. Campbell, L. Degenhardt & P. Dillon, National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC) Technical Report No. 289, Sydney, University of Sydney, 2007

§ Hundreds of drug-drivers caught by police over Easter long weekend in NSW / T. Ong, ABC News, 7 April 2015 (one in six motorists tested positive for drug driving)

§ NSW drivers turning to drugs: five times more people being caught than those under influence of alcohol, new police statistics show / M. Morri, The Daily Telegraph, 6 January 2014

§ 2014 NSW road toll figures: drug-driving deaths nearly as high as drink driving / C. Wheeler, Sydney Morning Herald, 2 January 2015

§ New weapon in testing drugs in drivers' system shows increase in drug-driving across NSW / N. Keene, The Daily Telegraph, 10 January 2015

§ Crackdown results in 50 NSW drivers failing random drug tests by NSW police / ABC News, 16 February 2015


South Australia

South Australia tests for the presence of the drugs THC (the active ingredient in cannabis), MDMA (the active ingredient in ecstasy) and methylamphetamine (speed and ice) which, according to the South Australian Government, are 'the three illegal drugs with the highest incidence, after alcohol, detected in the blood of fatally injured drivers and motorcycle riders in South Australia'.[footnote 51]

Section 47 of the Road Traffic Act 1961 makes it an offence to drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Section 47I also requires that blood samples be taken from all persons (including passengers) who are 14 years and older who (as a result of a motor vehicle accident) have suffered an injury and attended at or are admitted into hospital for the purpose of receiving treatment. Section 47EAA contains provisions for the refusal or failure to undertake a drug screening test, oral fluid analysis or blood tests, which consists of:

§ First offence: court penalty (a fine between $900-$1,300), six demerit points and licence disqualification (not less than six months).

§ Subsequent offences: court penalty (a fine between $1,500-$2,200), six demerit points and licence disqualification (not less than two years).

South Australian resources

§ Alcohol/drugs and driving offences / Legal Services Commission of South Australia

§ Drug driving FAQs / Towards Zero Together, South Australian Government

§ Offences and penalties / South Australian Government

Queensland

Random roadside drug testing was introduced in Queensland in 2009. Queensland currently tests for the active ingredients of the drugs THC (the active ingredient in cannabis), MDMA (the active ingredient in ecstasy) and methylamphetamine (speed and ice). Offences of driving while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs are contained in section 79 of the Transport Operations (Road Use Management) Act 1995.

The following sections of the Transport Operations (Road Use Management) Act 1995are particularly relevant:

§ Section 80(2A) states that a police officer may require any person suspected of driving a vehicle involved in an incident resulting in injury of death of any person or damage to property to provide a specimen of saliva or breath.

§ Time limits for the requirements for obtaining the specimen (as soon as practicable and within three hours after the event) are contained in section 80(4).

§ Blood specimens may be required under section 80(8) from persons arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, careless driving offences, indictable driving offences, or if they have been detained for the purposes of providing a sample.

§ Section 80(10G) also states that it is 'lawful' to take a specimen of blood without consent.

§ Section 80(5) allows for a police officer to forcibly take a person to a police station or other place for the purpose of obtaining a breath or saliva specimen.

§

Queensland resources

§ Random Drug Driving Tests under the Transport Legislation and Another Act Amendment Bill 2006 (Qld) / N. Dixon, research brief no. 4 2007, Queensland Parliamentary Library

§ Perceptual deterrence versus current behaviours: a study into factors influencing drug driving in Queensland / J. Freeman, C. Watling, J. Davey & G. Palk, Road & Transport Research, September 2010

§ Drug driving random roadside drug testing in North Queensland Project (2003-2005) / Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety – Queensland

§ Screening for drugs in oral fluid: Illicit drug use and drug driving in a sample of urban and regional Queensland motorists / J. Davey, J. Freeman & A. Lavelle, Transportation Research Part F Traffic Psychology and Behaviour, 2009, vol. 12, iss. 4, pp. 311-316

§ Police to start making suspected drug driving motorists give blood samples / T. Chamberlin, Courier Mail, 28 January 2014

§ Cumulative disqualification for repeat drink and drug drivers, information sheet / Department of Transport and Main Roads, Queensland Government

§ 'Go too far, lose your car' as Australia's toughest anti-hooning laws come into effect / Queensland Police, media release, 1 November 2013

§ Southern Queensland police get new equipment to test for drug driving / F. Rego & B. Sanders, ABC News, 6 March 2015

§ QPS Bolster Ability to Detect Drugs / J. Miller, Minister for Police, Fire and Emergency Services, media release, 3 March 2015

§ QLD police alarmed at rise in drug driving / E. Worthington, ABC News, 2 May 2013

§ Queensland police increase drug driver testing / Brisbane Times, 3 March 2015

§ Drugs and driving / Queensland Government

§ Drug driving / Queensland Police


Section 80(5A) states that it is an offence to fail to provide a specimen as required and that a person who commits an offence against this section may be liable for a maximum penalty of 40 penalty units or six months imprisonment.

Western Australia

As with the jurisdictions listed above, Western Australia tests for THC (the active ingredient in cannabis), MDMA (the active ingredient in ecstasy) and methylamphetamine (speed and ice). Division 2 of the Road Traffic Act 1974 addresses alcohol and drug related offences while driving. In particular, see section 64AB ('Driving while impaired by drugs'), section 64AC ('Driving with prescribed illicit drug in oral fluid or blood), and sections 66-69B (addressing police powers to require blood and oral fluid samples, failure to comply provisions and the taking and analysis of samples). Under section 66A, blood tests may be required if a person has been required to provide a breath sample under suspicion of driving under the influence or dangerous driving causing death or grievous bodily harm, and that sample does not reasonably explain the conduct or condition of the person.

Western Australia resources

§ Blood tests for car crash victims / D. Emerson, The West Australian, 23 February 2015

§ Parliamentary inquiry into WA Police effectiveness recommends blood extraction powers, more KPIs / K. Officer, Perth Now, 25 June 2015

§ Are We There Yet? How WA Police Determines Whether Traffic Law Enforcement is Effective / Community Development and Justice Standing Committee, Western Australian Parliament Legislative Assembly, 25 June 2015

§ WA Police roll out new roadside drug-testing machines for drivers / ABC News, 4 August 2014

§ 20 new drug testing machines now in the hands of WA Police / P. Hickey, Perth Now, 4 August 2014

§ Review of Western Australian Drug Driving Laws / J. E. Woolley & M. R. J Baldock, Centre for Automotive Safety Research (CASR) report series, May 2009

§ Drug driving / Western Australia Police

§ Fatal crash statistics / Western Australia Police

§ Road Rules and Penalties / Road Safety Commission, Western Australian Government


Many of these changes, which came into operation in 2007, were introduced by the Road Traffic Amendment (Drugs) Bill 2006. This legislation followed recommendations from a report by the Working Group on Drug Impaired Driving, completed in mid-2003.

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Research Notes are produced by the Parliamentary Library's Research & Inquiries service. They provide analysis on selected components of new Bills and topical issues in response to, and in anticipation of, the needs of Members of the Victorian Parliament.

This research publication is current as at the time of printing. It should not be considered a complete guide to the particular subject or legislation covered. While it is intended that all information provided is accurate, it does not represent professional legal opinion. Any views expressed are those of the author(s).

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Rachel Macreadie

Research & Inquiries Officer

Victorian Parliamentary Library & Information Service

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[footnote 1] Explanatory Memorandum, Road Safety Amendment Bill 2015, p. 1.

[footnote 2] Victoria Police (2014) Annual Report 2013-2014, October, Docklands, Victoria Police, p. 27.

[footnote 3] ibid, pp. 3, 27.

[footnote 4] ibid, p. 3.

[footnote 5] Transport Accident Commission (TAC) 'Drug driving: double bus', TAC website.

[footnote 6] W. Noonan, Minister for Police (2015) 'Second reading speech: Road Safety Amendment Bill 2015', Debates, Victoria, Legislative Assembly, 24 June, p. 2122. See also the Minister's media release: W. Noonan, Minister for Police (2015) New Laws Take Aim at Killer Drug Drivers, media release, 24 June;

[footnote 7] See related media articles: S. Butcher (2014) Killer driver Aaron Sandner had 50 grams of ice in car, court hears, The Age, 22 September; A. Cooper (2014) Drug blood test loophole closure sought after test refused following crash, The Age, 5 December. The following media article is on the new Bill: M. Johnston (2015) New law forces killer drivers to have drug tests at crash scene, Herald Sun, 24 June.

[footnote 8] Noonan (2015) 'Second reading speech: Road Safety Amendment Bill 2015', op. cit.

[footnote 9] The 2015-2016 financial year penalty unit value is $151.67, as fixed by the Treasurer on 13 April 2015 (see Victorian Government Gazette, No. S 86, 17 April 2015).

[footnote 10] See clause 5 of the Bill.

[footnote 11] State Library of New South Wales (2015) 'Ice, speed & other methamphetamines', DrugInfo website, State Library of New South Wales.

[footnote 12] Australian Crime Commission (ACC) (2014) Methylamphetamine, factsheet, ACC website, March.

[footnote 13] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) (2014) National Drug Strategy Household Survey 2013, Canberra, Australian Government, p. 62.

[footnote 14] ibid.

[footnote 15] ACC (2014) Methylamphetamine, op cit.

[footnote 16] Drug Driving Parliamentary Road Safety Committee Inquiry (1996) Inquiry into Effects of Drugs (Other than Alcohol) on Road Safety in Victoria, Melbourne, Parliament of Victoria.

[footnote 17] ibid, p. 1.

[footnote 18] Victorian Government (1997) Government Response to the Report of the Road Safety Committee on the Inquiry into the Effects of Drugs (Other than Alcohol) on Road Safety in Victoria, tabled 21 May, Melbourne, Victorian Government.

[footnote 19] C. Stough & R. King (2010) The Role of Alcohol and other Drugs in Road Deaths and Serious Injuries, DrugInfo Clearinghouse Issues Paper, No. 12, March, West Melbourne, DrugInfo Clearinghouse, p. 14.

[footnote 20] See also: Explanatory Memorandum, Road Safety (Drug Driving) Bill 2003.

[footnote 21] P. Batchelor, Minister for Transport (2003) 'Second reading speech: Road Safety (Drug Driving) Bill 2003', Debates, Victoria, Legislative Assembly, 30 October, p. 1419.

[footnote 22] Law Reform, Drugs and Crime Prevention Committee (2014) Inquiry into the Supply and Use of Methamphetamines, Particularly 'Ice', in Victoria, September, Melbourne, Parliament of Victoria, p. 33.

[footnote 23] P. D. Swann, M. C. Boorman & J. J. Potter (2004) Review of Drug Impaired Driving Legislation (Victoria Dec 2000) and New Random Drug Driving Legislation Based on Oral Fluid Testing, Kew, VicRoads Road Safety Department, p. 3.

[footnote 24] ibid, p. 4.

[footnote 25] Butcher (2014) Killer driver Aaron Sandner had 50 grams of ice in car, court hears, op. cit.; Cooper (2014) Drug blood test loophole closure sought after test refused following crash, op. cit.

[footnote 26] See also: Explanatory Memorandum, Road Safety Amendment Bill 2014.

[footnote 27] T. Mulder, Minister for Roads (2014) 'Second reading speech: Road Safety Amendment Bill 2014', Debates, Victoria, Legislative Council, 26 June, p. 2174.

[footnote 28] A. Jonas (2014) Research Notes on the Road Safety Amendment Bill 2014, Melbourne, Parliamentary Library & Information Service (in particular see the section on drink-drug driving).

[footnote 29] L. Jenner & N. Lee (2008) Treatment Approaches for Users of Methamphetamine: A Practical Guide for Frontline Workers, Canberra, Australian Government, Department of Health and Ageing, p. 7.

[footnote 30] T. Westmore, J. Van Vught, N. Thomson, P. Griffiths & J. Ryan (2014) The Impacts of Methamphetamine in Victoria: A Community Assessment, Melbourne, Penington Institute Report for the Victorian Department of Health.

[footnote 31] ibid, p. 7.

[footnote 32] AIHW (2014) National Drug Strategy Household Survey 2013, op. cit.

[footnote 33] Chapter 7 of the Report contains a discussion on methamphetamine and driving (in particular, see pages 164-172). Law Reform, Drugs and Crime Prevention Committee (2014) Inquiry into the Supply and Use of Methamphetamines, Particularly 'Ice', in Victoria, op. cit. See also the Committee's Terms of Reference.

[footnote 34] Victorian Government (2015) The Victorian Government's Response to the Parliamentary Inquiry into the Supply and Use of Methamphetamines, Particularly Ice, in Victoria, Melbourne, Victorian Government.

[footnote 35] G. K. Rich-Phillips, Assistant Treasurer (2014) 'Second reading speech: Road Safety Amendment (Mandatory Drug Testing) Bill 2014', Debates, Victoria, Legislative Council, 16 October, pp. 3441-3442. See also: Explanatory Memorandum, Road Safety Amendment (Mandatory Drug Testing) Bill 2014.

[footnote 36] ABC News (2014) Ice Action Taskforce members revealed by Victorian Government, ABC News, 22 December.

[footnote 37] This follows a pledge made prior to the election (on 27 August 2014), that they would establish an Ice Action Taskforce in the first 100 days of Government. D. Andrews, Premier of Victoria (2015) Ice Action Plan, media release, 5 March.

[footnote 38] ibid. See also: A. White (2015) Premier Daniel Andrews pledges $45.5m to tackle ice scourge, Herald Sun, 5 March; R. Willingham (2015) Victoria's ice crackdown: Andrews government's $45m plan to include more rehab, needle programs, The Age, 5 March; Australian Medical Association (2015) The Andrews Government Takes Leadership with Ice Action Plan, media release, 5 March; M. Pakula, Attorney-General (2015) Ice Action Plan Needed Now More than Ever, media release, 17 March; A. Savage (2015) Victorian Government reveals $45.5m plan to tackle ice problem, ABC News, 6 March.

[footnote 39] N. Hutchins, Acting Minister for Roads and Road Safety (2015) Cracking Down on Drunk, Drugged Drivers, media release, 12 July.

[footnote 40] See reference to the inquiry at: Parliamentary Joint Committee on Law Enforcement (2015) 'Inquiry into crystal methamphetamine (ice)', Parliament of Australia website. See also the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Law Enforcement's Terms of Reference, media releases and the submissions received.

[footnote 41] Australian Crime Commission (ACC) (2015) The Australian Methylamphetamine Market: The National Picture, Canberra, ACC, p. 2. See also: M. Keenan, Minister for Justice (2015) Australian Crime Commission's First Report into National Picture of Ice in Australia, media release, 25 March; ACC (2014) 2012-13 Illicit Drug Data Report, Canberra, ACC; N. Bucci (2015) Ice becoming cheaper and purer in Victoria: Australian Crime Commission report, The Age, 15 May.

[footnote 42] Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC) (2015) 'National Ice Taskforce', DPMC website. See also the following factsheets from the DPMC website: The National Ice Taskforce, What is the ice problem?, and How are governments combatting ice?

[footnote 43] D. Andrews, Premier of Victoria (2015) Premier Welcomes National Ice Taskforce, media release, 8 April.

[footnote 44] Sentencing Advisory Council (SAC) (2015) Major Driving Offences: Current Sentencing Practices, June, Melbourne, SAC. Note: This report was the second SAC report in 2015 which examined sentencing practices, following the March publication of SAC (2015) Major Drug Offences: Current Sentencing Practices, March, Melbourne, SAC.

[footnote 45] ibid., p. 31.

[footnote 46] T. Mills (2015) Victorian road death culprits speed, alcohol, males in late teens: report, The Age, 30 June.

[footnote 47] For a statistical break-down of sentencing outcomes and sentences imposed for the four major driving offences in their report from 2006-07 to 2012-13, see Table 1 on page 4 of SAC (2015) Major Driving Offences: Current Sentencing Practices, op. cit.

[footnote 48] ibid.

[footnote 49] J. Gordon (2015) Drink-drug drivers to face tough new penalties, The Age, 12 June.

[footnote 50] Hutchins, Acting Minister for Roads and Road Safety (2015) Cracking Down on Drunk, Drugged Drivers, op. cit.

[footnote 51] Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure (2015) 'Towards Zero Together', South Australian Government website.