Driving under the influence of cannabis in Australia
Do not get caught driving under the influence of cannabis in Australia. It is stupid anyway. Just as stupid as drink driving. When in control of a motor vehicle, it can turn into a lethal weapon in the blink of an eye. When you are stoned you may think you drive better, but your reactions are impaired, and often slowed.
When driving under the influence of cannabis you cannot drive safely. How do you expect to react appropriately in an emergency situation? Think it will not happen to you, do you? Australian law considers you to be impaired and unfit to be in control of a vehicle if you have taken drugs such as cannabis.
Police testing for drugs
Most Australian drivers will have undergone a breathalyser test at some point. But, drivers may not be aware that police can also test for drugs like cannabis use if they think a driver is under the influence of something by the way they behave.
Every state has a different procedure for driving under the influence of cannabis in Australia. In Victoria, the procedure must be videotaped and a copy given to the driver within 7 days, if charged with an offence.
In NSW, a police officer that takes an oral sample from a driver must:
- put the sample into an appropriate container
- put the lid on and secure it
- label appropriately for future identification
- provide a certificate to the driver containing the relevant details
- submit the sample for testing as soon as possible.
Police can also order blood samples from people suspected of driving under the influence of drugs. They have to be done by a doctor or nurse, and ordered when an oral sample cannot be obtained. In NSW, a blood sample can be taken without your permission.
In Queensland, police can order a blood sample when someone cannot communicate or they are unconscious.
When police cannot take fluids to test?
In NSW, police cannot take an oral fluid test for drugs if the driver:
- has severe injuries and doing the test puts them at further risk
- is in hospital under the treatment of a doctor, without notification and consent of the doctor.
In Queensland, police cannot conduct an oral drug test if it has been 3 hours since the person last drove a vehicle, and in NSW it is 2 hours.
What are drug tests?
Police have the powers to test drivers they suspect of being under the influence of drugs. Testing looks for traces of drugs in samples of hair, saliva, urine, sweat, or breath.
Saliva drug testing
The most common type of drug testing is saliva. This is often used throughout Australia at random roadside breath testing stations. Trained police officers put a collector into your mouth or onto the tongue to collect a saliva sample. It takes up to 5 minutes to give a reading. If it is positive, you will be required to have further testing before you can be charged with an offence.
Be assured, with the way Australian laws are these days, it is likely you will get caught if you use drugs and drive. So, be aware.
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