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Criminal Law News VIC

The facts about roadside drug testing in Victoria

What is Roadside drug testing?

An alert mind, clear vision and unimpaired reflexes are needed to be able to drive safely. Driving a motor vehicle is a complex task as it is but with a mind impaired by drugs or alcohol driving can become dangerous not only to the driver but also to passengers and pedestrians. 

A person who is under the influence of drugs or alcohol is unable to assess one’s capability to drive which is why it would be safer for such person to stay at home until the effects of the drugs or alcohol completely wear off.

The Victoria government penalizes driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol. Towards this end, police have the authority to roadside drug and alcohol tests on drivers.

What is drug testing?

The drug test will enable police to know if the person has taken illegal drugs including drugs that are prohibited in the workplace, sports and driving. A negative result in a drug test means that there are no longer drugs in the body or the test cannot detect traces of the drugs in a person’s body.  Drug tests consist of taking samples from a person’s urine, breath, saliva, blood or sweat.

Different kinds of drug tests

The following are the drug tests conducted by police officers in Victoria to determine if drivers are under the influence of drugs while driving:

Standard Impairment Assessment Test which consists of four parts namely:

  • Interview and observation;
  • Physical impairment test;
  • Walk and turn test; and
  • One leg stand test.

This kind of test is used as a means of detecting strange behaviour manifesting drug use. Other tests are required to determine illegal drug content in the driver’s system.

Saliva test is a common and easy form of drug test used by police to determine if a driver is driving under the influence of illegal drugs. Specially trained police officers will take a sample of the driver’s saliva with the use of an absorbent collector that is placed in the mouth or on the tongue. The test takes only about three to five minutes. This particular test can detect cannabis, ecstasy and methamphetamine.

In the event that the driver tests positive for drug use, confirmatory tests are required before charges are filed.

How long drugs stay in a person’s system

The effects of drugs vary in each person. Generally, most drugs, or the effects of drugs, remain in a person’s body for 24 to 48 hours. The effects largely depend on several factors such as:

  • potency of the drug;
  • quantity of the drug consumed or if consumed with other drugs;
  • immunity of a person’s system to the effects of the drug or the person’s tolerance to the effects of the drug;
  • frequency of taking the drug;
  • age and sex of the person taking the drug;
  • the disposition, general health and well-being of the person taking the drug.

Cannabis use can be detected several hours immediately after use while MDMA, more popularly known as ecstasy, can be detected for approximately 24 hours after use. Just like ecstasy, methamphetamine which is also known as “speed” and “ice” can also be detected 24 hours after use.

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