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Australian lawyers call for overhaul of ‘unfair’ roadside drug testing

The Australian Lawyers Alliance are calling for an overhaul of drug driving laws and changes to roadside drug testing, which they say are unfair.

Greg Barns, spokeperson from the Australian Lawyers Alliance, told 3AW’s Neil Mitchell that current legislation punishes people whose driving is not affected by drug use.

“You could have a person who has had some drugs on a weekend and is then driving on the Monday … There’s nothing wrong with their driving at all, they just get caught on a roadside test and they lose their license for a long time,” Mr Barns said.

“The legislation was designed to stop impairment in driving, in other words to stop people who might be unsafe on the roads. That’s the way drink driving laws work, but they don’t work that way with drug driving.”

Mr Barns said countries which have legalised cannabis have developed the technology to measure impairment levels caused by the drug.

“We just need to have sensible drug law reform. We need to stop saying that if you’ve got a whiff of cannabis on your breath, or in your saliva that means you can’t drive,” he said.

Mr Barns also had concerns about the accuracy of roadside testing.

“There have been a number of false positives,” he said.

Several callers told Neil Mitchell they had received false negatives on roadside tests for marijuana.

“I smoked a joint in the car… about five minutes later I got alcohol and drug tested and I was free to go,” Tony told Neil.

“I got tested about six months ago and I’d had marijuana that day and got through,” John said.

Minister for Roads and Road Safety Jaala Pulford was quick to counter the claims made by the Australian Lawyers Alliance.

“People need to understand that if they take drugs and drive, even if they feel fine, they will often be impaired and they are certainly putting themselves and other road users at risk,” she said.