A lawyer has slammed roadside drug tests which detect substances weeks after effects wear off.
Steve Bolt, from Bolt Findlay Solicitors in Lismore, NSW, said he has never seen a case where a guilty driver was in fact impaired by an illegal substance.
‘It’s an unfair law that penalises people who are not presenting any road side issues,’ Mr Bolt told Daily Mail Australia.
‘I have not seen any case in the last six or seven years where police have alleged the person was intoxicated by drugs.
‘They [police] simply say they did the test and it came back positive.’
Steve Bolt (pictured), from Bolt Findlay Solicitors in Lismore, Queensland, said he has never seen a case where a guilty driver was in fact impaired by illegal drugs
Mr Bolt’s comments come after New South Wales Greens MP and spokesperson on drug law Cate Faehrmann called for the end of roadside drug testing, which she claimed has nothing to do with improving road safety.
Ms Faehrmann slammed the NSW roadside drug test system as ‘arbitrary and unreliable’.
‘The regime in NSW has nothing to do with improving road safety and is simply an extension of the failed war on drugs,’ she said.
‘We know that drugs like marijuana will stay in people’s system for days, or even weeks, after consumption.
‘This means drivers are being convicted despite no evidence of impairment or threat to road safety.’
‘They [police] simply say they did the test and it came back positive’ (stock image)
‘Imagine losing your license for driving after having a beer a couple of days ago’
Cocaine can be detected in a person’s urine for up to 14 days, while MDMA, or ecstasy, can be detected for up to three days.
Marijuana, however, can still be detected in a user’s body 30 days after it’s been smoked.
The Greens are calling to reform roadside drug testing for an evidence-based programme that actually tests for impairment.
From July 2015 to June 2016 nearly 10,000 people were charged with drug driving offences in NSW. Of that number, 98.3 per cent were found guilty.
NSW Greens MP and spokesperson on drug law Cate Faehrmann (pictured) called for the end of roadside drug testing which she claims has nothing to do with improving road safety.
According to NSW Road Safety, ‘drug driving puts everyone on the road at risk.’
‘Our research shows that the presence of illegal drugs is involved in the same number of fatal crashes as drink driving.’
Mr Bolt said the website does not advertise how illegal drugs can remain in the body and urine.
‘Illegal drugs can be detected in your saliva by an MDT for a significant time after drug use, even if you feel you are OK to drive,’ the website reads.
‘The length of time that illegal drugs can be detected by MDT depends on the amount taken, frequency of use of the drug, and other factors that vary between individuals.
‘Cannabis can typically be detected in saliva by an MDT test stick for up to 12 hours after use. Stimulants can typically be detected for one to two days.’
Mr Bolt has represented dozens of these cases over the last few years and says the accused had taken drugs ‘day or two before being tested by police and their test turns out positive’.
‘The unfairness of it is the punishment is for people who are NOT impaired – how does that make sense?’ he told Daily Mail Australia.
‘Why should someone lose their licence if they’re not affected?
There has been a widespread call to change the test where it shows actual impairment when an individual is tested (stock)
‘Someone who’s used cannabis two years ago, should they lose their licence? Same as someone who may have smoked two days ago – they don’t deserve to lose their licence.’
Lismore Magistrate David Heilpern, has previously made comment about the road drug testing – concurring with the Greens MP.
Mr Bolt who represented people who were wrongly accused of driving under the influence said Mr Heilpern ‘refused to oblige to the law’ because it’s not about the impairment, rather the affect the drugs have on driving.
There has been a widespread call to change the test where it shows actual impairment when an individual is tested.
‘The government doesn’t tell people about how the system works,’ Mr Bolt said.
‘What we need to workout if there is an impairment, if there is an acceptable level is of drugs in the system.
‘There’s no consistency, no correlation, regular smokers would have tolerance and it wouldn’t affect them.’
DRUGS TESTED FOR AND HOW LONG THEY STAY IN YOUR SYSTEM
Cannabis – Marijuana can be detected in urine for as long as 30 days after usage if the person being tested is a frequent user. For sporadic use, marijuana can still be detected about three days after usage.
Ecstasy – Ecstasy or MDMA can be detected up to three days after first use.
Methylamphetamine (speed/ice) – Depending on the amount ingested, ice can be detected as long as five days after use.
Cocaine – Cocaine can return a positive result in urine tests up to two weeks after usage if the person being tested is a chronic user. For a less frequent user, cocaine can register in urine for two days after use.
Source: The Mayo Clinic