New legislation to implement roadside drug testing

The new law is line with the government's commitment to bolster road safety

New legislation to implement roadside drug testing

The Coalition Government is set to introduce legislation to implement roadside drug testing this year.

The new law is in line with the government’s commitment to bolster road safety and restore law and order, according to Transport Minister Simeon Brown. The announcement was made at the Road Safety Week launch; the law is set for introduction to Parliament by mid-year and passed near the end of the year.

The minister explained that the new legislation would give police the authority to screen drivers for drugs roadside at random via oral fluid testing devices, as with drink-driving enforcement. The government intends to set targets for police to conduct 50,000 oral fluid tests annually.

“Alcohol and drugs are the number one contributing factor in fatal road crashes in New Zealand. In 2022, alcohol and drugs were contributors to 200 fatal crashes on our roads. Despite this, only 26% of drivers think they are likely to be caught drug driving,” he said.

Brown noted that although the previous government had passed legislation to implement roadside drug testing, no progress was made over the past two years due to what he described as the legislation's flaws and “unworkable” aspects, such as the mandate that “roadside tests needed to be suitable for evidentiary standards, rather than screening standards”.

“Oral fluid testing is common overseas and is an easy way to screen for drugs at the roadside. Our approach will bring New Zealand in line with Australian legislation and will remove unnecessary barriers that have delayed the fight against drug driving”, he said. “For too long, drug drivers have put other road users at risk with very limited enforcement. Those days are over, and anyone driving while impaired by drugs can expect to be caught and face serious consequences under our drug testing regime”.

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