Roadside drug testing delayed again

More New Zealand lives will be lost due to drug impaired drivers as a result of the Government’s decision to further delay the introduction of roadside drug testing, National MP Dr Nick Smith says.

The Land Transport (Drug Driving) Amendment Bill was introduced to Parliament last July, with a longer than usual nine month timetable requiring a report back by April 2021. This week that was further extended until June at the Government’s request. This is the fifth time the Government has failed to meet its timeline on introducing roadside drug testing.

These further delays to introducing roadside drug testing are disappointing for the thousands who have campaigned and petitioned for this measure to reduce the toll of 95 lives a year drugged driving causes, Dr Smith says.

“The Government is able to pass laws very quickly when it wishes, we’ve seen it happen with testing party pills, making certain guns illegal, and creating Māori wards.

“Police and Transport officials presented the Government with a workable solution three years ago for roadside drug testing. More delays only put the public at further risk.

“The Government’s justification for the latest delay is it wishes to introduce detailed amendments that set the actual criminal and infringement levels, but these should have been in the legislation when it was first introduced.

“It’s becoming clear the messy process is a result of political manipulation.

“The Transport Minister admitted this week the bill was introduced in a half-baked form to try and ease the minds of those concerned about drug drivers when voting in the 2020 cannabis referendum.

“Now that the public has voted against legalising cannabis any urgency from the Government has disappeared. But the risk to the public is still there.

“National strongly supports roadside drug testing. We’ve previously attempted six times to get the law changed.

“We know from introducing roadside alcohol testing that it more than halved the loss of life. Random roadside drug testing is shown to work overseas as well.

“National will continue to push to get drugged drivers off our roads as quickly as possible.”