National Drug-Impaired Driving working group announced by Infrastructure Minister Darren Chester

A new national report has underlined some of the barriers impacting the state’s roadside drug-testing procedures.

The report, released by federal Infrastructure Minister Darren Chester in Tasmania on Friday, indicated there were issues in procedural costs and administration by courts of penalties.

Mr Chester said the government would now establish a National Drug-Impaired Driving working group – with police, road authorities, and government – to come up with a national model for roadside drug-testing.

“The opportunity was identified for governments to work more closely with police across Australia to develop a national focus and shared approach to the enforcement of drug-impaired driving,” he said.

The report, done by the Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety, identified there was a lack of graduated penalties for drug-driving incidents, similar to those imposed by courts for drink-driving offences.

It said courts were seeking clarification on issues of impairment when deciding penalties.

“On the face of it, this appears to be a juxtaposition to a per se legislation which is not designed around levels of impairment but rather detectability of a prescribed substance,” the report said.

It said there was general consensus that costs impaired successful drug-testing operation.

“This includes the multi-layered steps required to obtain evidentiary information, such as two oral fluid samples followed by a confirmatory analysis,” the report said. 

“This central barrier was not just associated with the costs of testing, but also the time required to obtain evidence.”

Tasmanian Police Minister Rene Hidding said the state would join the national effort to crack down on illicit drug-driving. “The Hodgman Liberal Government has a target of zero fatalities on our roads by 2050 and tackling illicit drug use and impaired driving is vital in reaching that goal,” he said.