In an apparent Australian first, NSW Police are to introduce roadside tests for cocaine in addition to existing tests for cannabis, MDMA, methamphetamines, and of course, alcohol.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian is expected to reveal the move today, after the clearing of a legal pathway for the change.
The move may be a rare example of agreement between the right- and left-wing corners of the state government on drug policy.
Last December, NSW Police Minister Troy Grant pushed for a trial of the cocaine-reading roadside tests in Sydney’s eastern suburbs.
Grant said that since technology had progressed to a point where the presence of cocaine in a driver’s system could be determined in a roadside test, there was no reason not to do so.
That move never came to fruition, but Greens MP David Shoebridge also asked why the NSW government wasn’t already testing for cocaine. Shoebridge argued drug tests that omitted cocaine readings were classist, as they excluded wealthier drug users who could stump up for the expensive illicit substance.
The agreement between both sides of the political divide ends there, though. Shoebridge has long argued against the particular tests used by NSW Police, saying they can pick up on a driver’s drug use days after the fact, and long, long after their impairment.
Citing the NSW Centre for Road Safety, The Daily Telegraph notes eleven road fatalities were linked to cocaine between 2012 and 2016. Around 300 were linked to cannabis, MDMA, and methamphetamines.
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