Roadside drug driver testing Bill introduced

3 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineJuly 31, 2020

The government has announced details of a planned new law to give police the power to conduct random roadside drug testing of drivers, Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter and Minister of Police Stuart Nash have announced.

The Land Transport (Drug Driving) Amendment Bill was introduced Thursday and is intended to have its first reading in the house next week.

“This government is committed to reducing drug-related harm in our communities. This new law will allow police to test if drivers are under the influence of drugs anywhere, anytime, just as they do now for alcohol,” said Nash.

Genter said that last year, 103 people died in crashes where the driver was later found to have drugs in their system, and more needed to be done to stop impaired drivers getting behind the wheel. 

“Enforcement on our roads is a key part of this, but every one of must challenge dangerous driving behaviours in friends, workmates or family,” said Nash.

“The Bill allows police to use oral fluid tests to check drivers for drugs which are likely to include THC (cannabis), methamphetamine, opiates, cocaine, MDMA (ecstasy), and benzodiazepines. These are currently the most prevalent and high-risk drugs and medications used by drivers in New Zealand.

“Under this law, drivers who test positive for the presence of drugs will be fined, immediately suspended from driving for 12 hours, and lose half their demerit points.”

Drivers would also face harsher criminal penalties where blood tests confirm impairing levels of drugs in their system, or drugs combined with alcohol.

“We all want driving on our roads to be as safe as possible. Driving while impaired by drugs or alcohol makes drivers more likely to speed, lose control of the vehicle, or crash,” said Genter. 

“It‘s important we get this right. I expect the Bill to head to select committee after the election where experts and the general public can weigh in on the details of the proposed law.

“Road safety is a priority for this government. No loss of life on our roads is acceptable and we‘re committed to taking action to stop unnecessary trauma,” said Genter.

Specific criminal limits for drugs will be added to the Bill by Supplementary Order Paper and provided to the select committee for scrutiny, allowing the independent expert panel sufficient time to provide advice on the setting of these limits.