Monday, November 1, 2010

Innocent drivers test positive for drugs

Nearly four per cent of people who test positive for drug driving in Victoria and have their licences temporarily suspended are innocent, it emerged today.

Victoria Police today admitted that wrong results were part of the testing process but said it would not change its procedures.

Under the current system, drivers' saliva is tested for cannabis, ecstasy or amphetamines at the roadside and banned for up to 12 hours if they return a positive result. But penalties or permanent bans are not issued until the sample is tested at a drug laboratory, which police say is 100 per cent accurate. [That's a laugh!]

The new statistics emerged after it was revealed today that Geelong man Rory Lalor recently recorded a false positive test and was banned from the behind the wheel for four hours. Mr Lalor paid $115 for an independent test that showed his system was free from illegal drugs, but Victoria Police said yesterday he would never have been fined or banned from driving permanently because his saliva swab was found negative by its laboratory.

Inspector Martin Boorman said today that false positives could be returned if equipment was faulty, if test was not conducted correctly or if the sample itself was problematic but did not elaborate on the last point. He said they were an unfortunate part of the procedure and that 62 of 1618 drug driving tests sent to the laboratory, or 3.8 per cent, had been found to be false.

But he said Victoria Police had accepted this since random drug testing was introduced in 2006 and would not be changing its methods. "I apologise for the inconvenience of these people, but I make no apologies for what we're doing," he said.

Inspector Boorman said police had detected 1556 drug drivers that were potentially a danger to themselves and others on the road.


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