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Roadside drug testing under question after truckie successfully contests reading

Posted by: Ellen Feely | 29 June, 2012 - 9:54 AM
police drug swab

Victoria's roadside police drug testing has been called into question, after a truck driver successfully contested two positive saliva readings which could have rendered him jobless.

Truck driver Danny Hanning told Neil Mitchell he had been pulled over by Horsham police for a routine drug test, and twice tested positive to marijuana and amphetamines. Insistent that he had not taken drugs and desperate to clear his name, Danny Hanning requested a blood test.

After seven weeks waiting, Danny Hanning's blood test concluded he did not have drugs in his system.

"I just had to sit and wait," he said.

"I knew I was in the clear, I knew I was right. Even so, I started wondering what it could be or how it could've happened."

Speaking with Neil Mitchell, Victoria Police Inspector Martin Boorman who oversees roadside drug testing said while he had every sympathy for Danny Hanning, the focus should be on the gains made by roadside drug testing.

LISTEN: Inspector Martin Boorman speaks with Neil Mitchell

"We look at the gains we've made since we've had this system in place in terms of lives lost and injuries prevented, a little bit of inconvenience is a price I think the community would tolerate to save lives," he said.

Inspector Boorman said that since drug testing was introduced in 2004, the percentage of illicit drugs being a factor in fatal collisions had dropped by nine per cent from 2005 to 2009, and the road toll had dropped 16 per cent.

"I'm sorry that Mr Hanning has been on the raw end of the stick... But over this period of time there's been more than 5,000 people that have been confirmed to have drugs present in their system."

Inspector Boorman said the roadside drug testing had a 93.3% accuracy rate, and of the nearly 200,000 samples taken since 2004, 338 positive readings sent back to the laboratory for testing had been overturned.

Inspector Boorman said there were three variables which could result in an inaccurate reading: the drug-testing devices may themselves be faulty; the devices may not have been operated properly; or the saliva sample itself could be the cause for the problem.

Danny Hanning said the company he worked for were understanding and had allowed him to continue working throughout the seven-week waiting period, but if he hadn't contested the positive readings he would've lost his job.

"It definitely needs looking at. I think that they shouldn't be allowed to just rely on a roadside test," he said.

"I want them to fix the system. There's nothing that I want more than them to fix the system.

Danny said he wasn't alone, with a police officer telling him seven other people were waiting for contested drug test results to come back as well as his own.

"It's not just me, it's other drivers out that are getting wrongly accused. And that's the problem, it's the guilty until proven innocent side of it," he said.

However Inspector Boorman said that of the 124 truck drivers tested by Horsham police this year, 11 readings had indicated the drivers had drugs present. After subsequent testing, one sample - belonging to Danny Hanning - had come back as negative; nine were proven positive; and one was still pending.

LISTEN: Truck driver Danny Hanning speaks with Neil Mitchell:

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Truckies beat drug charges

Truckies HORSHAM: A truck driver who tested positive to cannabis and amphetamines during an on-the-road swab test has proved the charges wrong. "It's because we're truck drivers," Mick told Neil Mitchell. "We have a wrongfully bad image."

Blog comments Your Say

  • I've always been of the opinion that if you've done nothing wrong then you have nothing to worry about but 93% accuracy is a concern. I don't drive for a living & have only been pulled over for roadside drug testing once but when you are on the road up to 14 hours a day 5 days a week the chances of being pulled over are exponentially higher & statistically you would be more likely to be one of the 7% turning up a false positive. What happens to a professional driver during those 7 weeks if their boss doesn't allow them to work while they await blood test results?

    SB_Pokolbin Wednesday 11 December, 2013 - 8:20 PM
  • anon...note...is too scared to name him/herself as they might be taken to task as breaking ranks ..nothing has changed the "we are untouchable we are the champions of the world mindset
    WHAT A pedantic desk bound fool

    pig stands 4 provocatice,indifferent,garrulous,sucker Saturday 30 June, 2012 - 11:14 AM
  • @Anon,why do the police object to being tested??

    Steve Friday 29 June, 2012 - 9:15 PM
  • Victoria Poice should abandon the saliva testing and instead take blood samples from all drivers at booze-bus sites. This will be the only fair way to screen out the irresponsible drivers.

    Mrs.Platypus Friday 29 June, 2012 - 5:13 PM
  • On the issue of the truck driver, from what Iâ??ve heard over the last 2 days on 3AW, it was the oral fluid test that came back negative as well as the blood test that he requested. So even if he didn't request blood he would have been cleared. Which means the system is working it was just unfortunate that it took 7 weeks for the result to come back. However I do believe that the driver should be compensated for his loss of wages for the time his truck was grounded. There are a lot of inaccuracies in the 3AW news report and people should not believe everything they read. The first paragraph of this report is wrong, the truck driver did not successfully contest two positive saliva readings, he was never charged so nothing to contest!!!! And the quote that the police officer stated that there were seven other people waiting for contested drug test results to come back is false. The officer was waiting on the results for 7 tests to come back (not contested tests as stated) and they all came back positive, the truck driver was the only negative result. This was confirmed by both Mr Hanning and Inspector Boorman today but miss reported by Mr Hanningâ??s friend. I urge readers to be weary of what they read and believe. The system may not be perfect but it has successfully removed over 5,000 drug drivers from our roads which I think most Victorians would be extremely grateful for.

    Anon Friday 29 June, 2012 - 4:59 PM
  • Oh Sharon A Richter there is only one fat idiot commenting here and it certainly isn't me. Mind you, you did make me laugh with your blatant inaccuracies. Firstly let me clarify something, I do know what IÃ?¢Ã?Â?Ã?Â?m talking about because I have been a police officer for many years, secondly IÃ?¢Ã?Â?Ã?Â?ll point out some facts for you. There is absolutely no arrest power for drink or drug driving. If you have tested positive for either drugs or alcohol you are requested to accompany the member to a police station for either an EBT (drink driving) or an Oral Fluid test (drugs). If you refuse to accompany you will then be charged with that offence. If you do accompany at no stage are you under arrest and you may leave the police station at any time. Yes it is recorded on the 'LEAP' police database but only that you were in attendance at a police station and no criminal records check available to the public will display this information. Now as we are clarifying issues, Dan from Wheelers Hill, police members are not opposed to being drug tested in fact we encourage it. There is already a policy in our workplace for drug and alcohol testing and I would be more than happy to be tested any time.

    Anon Friday 29 June, 2012 - 4:58 PM

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