New South Wales Adds Cocaine to Driver Drug Testing

The announcement came after 392 people died on NSW roads in 2017, with 42 of the deaths involving drug-affected drivers.

As part of a series of new measures announced last week in an attempt to reduce the number of deaths on roads in New South Wales, Australia, cocaine will be added to the existing roadside drug tests. The announcement came after 392 people died on NSW roads in 2017, with 42 of the deaths involving drug-affected drivers.

“When someone irresponsible gets behind the wheel and does the wrong thing, it can result in tragic loss. Today’s measures are on top of what we’re already doing,” NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said. “People should not be taking illegal drugs and getting behind the wheel. A car is a lethal weapon.”

All Australian states have random driver drug testing, but existing kits test only THC (cannabis), methamphetamine, and MDMA (ecstasy). The roadside drug testing program had previously come under criticism for excluding cocaine from its tests.

Berejiklian said NSW would also be increasing the maximum penalties for drug-affected drivers to two years’ imprisonment, fines of A$5500, and license disqualification for up to five years. The number of roadside drug tests are also set to double from 100,000 a year to 200,000 a year by 2020.

In addition, NSW Roads Minister Melinda Pavey said an inter-agency working group will be created to deal with the problem of people driving under the influence of prescription medications such as methadone, valium, and codeine. The group will include representatives from the Centre for Road Safety, NSW Police, the Department of Justice and NSW Health.

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