Review shows drug driving law working well

  • Simon Bridges

The current drug testing regime for drivers will not be changed, Associate Transport Minster Simon Bridges has announced following a Government review of the law.  Mr Bridges says there is good evidence that the current regime is working well.

“Over 500 drivers have tested positive for at least one drug in the two years since the regime began.  The law is helping take these people off the roads, and reducing the risk they pose to themselves and other road users.”

The regime allows police to ask a driver to undertake a compulsory impairment test if they have good cause to suspect drug use.  If the driver’s performance on this test is unsatisfactory, police can then ask for a blood specimen for drug analysis.

“The overwhelming majority – 95 per cent of impaired drivers who were asked for a blood specimen – tested positive for drugs, indicating police are judging driver behaviour well and not over-referring drivers.”

Mr Bridges says New Zealand will not at this stage be adopting a random roadside drug testing regime.

“Current research and overseas experience make it clear that saliva test technology to support a random drug testing is simply not reliable enough yet.  It fails to pick up drugs in a significant percentage of cases and can falsely detect it in others.”

A two-year review was requested by the New Zealand Government when the new regime came into effect on 1 November 2009.  The regime is based on the general principle that drug-driving is a road safety issue and that those convicted should be subject to the same range of penalties as drink-drivers.  The testing process also needs to be fair and robust, and comply with the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990.

Mr Bridges says research and overseas experience would continue to be monitored by officials.

Further information is available on the Ministry of Transport website: