Cocaine to be included in Drug Driving Testing
In response to the rising number of serious crashes, the Queensland Government has expanded its highly successful roadside drug testing program to include testing for cocaine. The inclusion of cocaine in the program aims to detect dangerous drivers and keep them off the state’s roads.
Drivers on Queensland roads can be charged with an offence of driving while a relevant drug is present even if their driving is not impaired by the drug. With a zero-tolerance approach to drug driving, Queensland has implemented tough penalties for offenders, including license disqualification, fines, and even jail time for repeat offenders.
Expansion of Roadside Drug Testing Program
The roadside drug testing program has been in operation in Queensland for over 15 years, with approximately 50,000 random tests conducted by police each year. one quarter of those tests has resulted in a drug driving charge.
Previously, testing kits could detect the presence of methylamphetamine, MDMA (ecstasy), and THC (the active ingredient in cannabis) from a saliva sample. However, considering the alarming increase in the number of drivers caught with cocaine in their system over the past five years, the Queensland Government has made the decision to add cocaine to the list of narcotics detectable through roadside screening.
Drug Driving Legislation and Penalties
The inclusion of cocaine in the roadside drug testing program is part of sweeping drug driving reforms outlined in the Queensland Road Safety Action Plan. The government has adopted a zero-tolerance approach towards drug driving, aiming to protect both drivers and the wider community. According to the Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey, “If you’re behind the wheel with drugs in your system, you’re not only a danger to yourself but to every other Queenslander, and we make no apologies for coming down hard.”
Under Queensland law, drivers who test positive for cocaine, cannabis, speed, ice, or ecstasy will face severe consequences. Offenders will have their license disqualified, and they could be fined up to $2,167. Repeat offenders may even face imprisonment. These penalties reflect the serious nature of drug driving and serve as a strong deterrent to potential offenders.
Importance of Road Safety and Individual Responsibility
Drug driving is a significant contributing factor to fatal crashes, and the Queensland Government’s decision to expand roadside drug testing to include cocaine is a response to the number of lives lost on the roads. In 2022, 61 people died in crashes involving drug drivers or riders, representing approximately 20.5 percent of the total lives lost on Queensland roads.
Queensland Police Service Acting Assistant Commissioner Chris Stream emphasized the consequences of drug driving, stating, “Drivers under the influence of drugs or alcohol exhibit impaired judgment, memory, coordination, and reaction time.”
The expansion of Queensland’s roadside drug testing program to include cocaine demonstrates the government’s commitment to combating drug driving and ensuring road safety. With severe penalties in place for drug drivers, including license disqualification, fines, and potential jail time for repeat offenders, the message is clear: drug driving will not be tolerated.
If you require assistance with a driving matter, you should contact our experienced traffic law team who can give you advice about efforts you can take to obtain a work licence or minimise the disqualification period for a drug driving offence.
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