What you need to know
Research shows that many illicit and prescription drugs have the potential to impair driving, and studies show New Zealanders are using those drugs and driving. In 2019, 103 people were killed in crashes where a driver was found to have drugs other than alcohol in their system. This represented 30% of all road deaths. While drug drivers already face serious criminal penalties if they are caught, the current law makes it hard for police to carry out more tests that could deter drug driving. It is clear that our current approach is not effective in deterring drug driving on our roads.
Enhancing drug driving testing is one of 15 actions proposed as part of the initial action plan under the new Road to Zero strategy. In July 2020 the Government introduced legislation that would introduce a compulsory random roadside drug testing scheme in New Zealand. Under the proposed drug driving regime, oral fluid tests will detect the most prevalent impairing illicit and prescription drugs at the roadside. The proposed change allows police to test drivers for the presence of drugs anywhere, any time, just as they can for alcohol.
Criminal limits and blood infringement thresholds agreed by Cabinet
Cabinet agreed to set criminal limits and blood infringement thresholds in legislation based on the advice of the Independent Expert Panel on Drug Driving (the Panel).
These limits and thresholds have been added to the Bill via Supplementary Order Paper and will be considered by the Transport and Infrastructure Committee.
Expert Panel prepares advice on criminal limits
In December 2020, the Independent Expert Panel on Drug Driving (the Panel) provided Ministers with recommendations for criminal limits and infringement thresholds for blood drug concentrations.
Amendment Bill introduced to Parliament and referred to Select Committee
The Associate Minister of Transport introduced the Land Transport (Drug Driving) Amendment Bill into Parliament on 30 July 2020.
Independent panel on drug driving appointed
The Independent Expert Panel on Drug Driving has been established to provide advice to the Government on the limits to be specified for drugs in legislation, the low-level tolerance thresholds to be applied to the detection of drugs in blood, and the cut-off thresholds to be included in oral fluid testing devices.
On 18 December 2019, the Government announced its proposal for a new drug driver testing scheme, which would introduce compulsory random oral fluid testing for drug driving. Under the proposed regime, if a driver fails 2 consecutive oral fluid tests that show the presence of a drug, this leads to an infringement offence. Drivers that fail the oral fluid tests can choose to have an evidential blood test.
Discussion document consulted on
The purpose of the consultation was to get public feedback about possible approaches to improving our drug driving system, including the methods that could be used to screen and test for drugs, the circumstances in which a driver should be tested, what drugs should be tested for and how police should deal with drug driving offences.
Discussion document approved for release
The Government approved the release of a Discussion Document on drug driving, subject to editorial changes.
Government agreed to consult
The Government agreed to undertake public consultation on enhancements to New Zealand’s drug impaired driving regime
New road safety strategy work began
We started working with our government transport partners on a new road safety strategy and a planned programme of short to medium-term initiatives to improve road safety. This included strengthening the detection and deterrence of drug-impaired driving.