Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Govt flags new roadside drug testing powers for Police

The Government has announced it will introduce legislation this year to enable roadside drug testing as part of a commitment to improve road safety and restore law and order.

Transport Minister, Simeon Brown said alcohol and drugs remain the number one contributing factor in fatal road crashes in New Zealand.

“In 2022, alcohol and drugs were contributors to 200 fatal crashes on our roads. Despite this, only 26% of drivers think they are likely to be caught drug driving,” said Mr Brown.

“The previous government passed legislation to introduce roadside drug testing, however two years later, no progress has been made as the legislation was flawed and unworkable as the roadside tests needed to be suitable for evidentiary standards, rather than screening standards,” he said.

Speaking at the launch of Road Safety Week, Mr Brown said legislation will be introduced this year to give Police the power to randomly screen drivers for drugs at the roadside using oral fluid testing devices, similar to drink-driving enforcement.

“Oral fluid testing is common overseas and is an easy way to screen for drugs at the roadside. Our approach will bring New Zealand in line with Australian legislation and will remove unnecessary barriers that have delayed the fight against drug driving,” he said.

“The Coalition Government is committed to giving Police the tools they need to improve the detection of drug driving and will set targets for Police to undertake 50,000 oral fluid tests per year once roadside drug testing is implemented.

“For too long, drug drivers have put other road users at risk with very limited enforcement. Those days are over, and anyone driving while impaired by drugs can expect to be caught and face serious consequences under our drug testing regime.”

Legislation is expected to be introduced to Parliament by the middle of the year and passed towards the end of 2024.

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