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Roadside Cocaine Testing – Necessary or Nanny Statism?

By Siriol Dafydd on May 29, 2019 in News

This is going to make a few people nervous, by Richard Buttrose.

Between lockouts and complicated drinking restrictions, NSW has become a bit of a nanny state. This is hardly breaking news. But when you reach the point where festival goers, despite having no drugs whatsoever on their person, are being denied entry because a sniffer dog gave them the wrong look, one could argue that our state nanny is so intoxicated with power she’s got us gagged, bubble-wrapped and swaddled in bed every night by 7pm.
So when cocaine was added to the list of drugs to be swabbed for in roadside Mobile Drug Testing, the collective eye-roll was inevitable. But, as far as rules and regulations in NSW go, at least this one has some genuine substance (no pun intended) because driving under the influence of any illicit drug is dangerous and unnecessary. And if you’ve just snorted a line and immediately gotten behind the wheel, you deserve everything you’ve got coming to you.
Although the Baird and Berejiklian governments have made plenty of pointless changes that have all but destroyed our social lives, the Road Safety Plan 2021 is designed to reduce road fatalities by 30 per cent.
According to Transport for NSW’s statistical statement for calendar year 2017, there were 16,801 casualty crashes that year. Of these, 16,450 were injury crashes and 351 were fatal. 389 people were killed during this time and a further 21,140 injured. The cost of these accidents was an estimated $7.5 billion, according to the report.
Furthermore, according to Transport’s Drug Driving Trauma Trends report published in February 2017, crashes involving at least one motor vehicle controller with an illicit drug present in their system accounted for over 20 per cent of roadside fatalities in 2015/2016. And that’s before they began testing for cocaine.
Roadside drug testing may be just as necessary as random breath testing, and police already swab for cannabis, speed and ecstasy, so why has the idea of cocaine testing got so many knickers in a twist? Perhaps the latest in a long line of rules and restrictions was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Or it could be because Sydneysiders just bloody love their cocaine.
A few months back we brought you some fascinating stats from the good folk who sift through our shit at the National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program. In an article aptly titled “Sydney: The Cokehead Capital of Australia” we revealed that Sydneysiders consumed more of the white stuff than anyone else in the country. And as of December 6, 2018 the latest report from the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission confirmed that we’re still on top. Sydney clearly loves its coke
Roadside tests can now be performed at random, day or night. Apparently, regular consumers of the party powder can take longer than others to flush it out of their system, so if you’re racking up on the regular you may need to consider this before operating a vehicle. Some experts have been reported as saying that a high dose of cocaine could be detected by a saliva test up to 24 hours after you’ve taken it, so there’s a significant chance that users could test positive for cocaine while no longer feeling its effects.
There’s a big difference between casually dabbling in drugs and getting behind the wheel under the influence. Whether you like it or not, these laws are here to prevent fatalities. If you simply must get your kicks from an overpriced bag of unknown powder, don’t be a tit about it; catch public transport to work the next day or spend the foreseeable future hiding under a duvet of regret like any normal person.