We know after a big night out many clubbers make the decision to drive home. It is interesting many of these people would be horrified to even think of drinking and driving, but think nothing of having a pill and getting behind the wheel of a car. That attitude may change when the government introduces roadside drug testing later this year. The legislation looks like being put through the NSW parliament sometime this month and then the drug buses will hit the street in December, just in time for the party season.
Victoria has had random roadside drug testing for over 18 months now. Up to this time their testing system only tested for cannabis and methamphetamine, but from 1 September Victorian motorists will also be tested for ecstasy. The new test, using a saliva sample, will be supported by new legislation which gives police the power to prosecute drivers detected with ecstasy in their system.
Law enforcement agencies say the justification for this type of legislation is that driving under the influence of drugs has become a major contributor to road deaths and trauma across the country. For example, in 2005, more than 40 percent of drivers killed in Victoria tested positive to drugs other than alcohol. Of the more than 21,000 drivers drug-tested for cannabis and amphetamines from roadside drug testing conducted in 2005, 436 -“ or one in 49 -“ had tested positive to one or both drugs.
Now it is important to note this does not mean one in 49 people who drive do so under the influence of drugs. Roadside drug testing has been specifically targeted at areas where the police believe they have the greatest chance of catching people. This means the drug buses are located in areas such as long-distance truck routes, access points to outdoor dance parties and raves, as well as nightclub strips. You can pretty well guarantee you will see them pop up in similar areas around NSW when the testing is introduced in this state.
How dangerous is driving while under the influence of ecstasy? To be honest, we really don’t know. There have been very few studies conducted on the area. We do know a small amount of amphetamine can actually make a driver more alert and more focused and can actually result in improved driving performance. However, most amphetamine users use at higher levels than that and some of the effects that are usually associated with use are impaired judgment and skills, a false sense of bravado and falling asleep when the drug’s effect wore off.
Ecstasy is not a harmless drug. Unfortunately, for most people the harm they are most probably going to experience is linked to the drug’s illegality. Be aware roadside drug taking is coming and be prepared.
Remember: if you do not want any negative consequences, do not use the drug and, no matter how many times you have used a substance, never be blas?/p>