Introduction of roadside oral fluid testing

On 18 December the Government announced its proposal to introduce a new compulsory random roadside oral fluid testing scheme for New Zealand.

 Key aspects of the new scheme are:

  • a compulsory random oral fluid testing regime, under which two positive (failed) oral fluid tests showing the presence of drugs leads to an infringement offence (with an option to elect an evidential blood test)
  • retention of the current ‘compulsory impairment test’ (CIT), with some restrictions on police officers switching between the CIT and the proposed oral fluid testing processes
  • limits for the presence of drugs in blood to be prescribed in legislation, based on advice from an independent panel of experts
  • graduated sanctions, including infringement and criminal penalties for drug driving offences, based on exceeding the limits prescribed in legislation
  • a medical defence for drivers who have consumed drugs in accordance with a prescription
  • a harm minimisation approach to drug driving, providing both ‘opt-in’ and compulsory health referrals.

A Bill will be introduced in Parliament early in 2020 to enable roadside oral fluid drug testing to begin in 2021. The related Cabinet Paper and Regulatory Impact Statement will be published shortly.

Read the related Questions and Answers

Enhanced Drug Driver Testing is a key action in the Road to Zero Road Safety Strategy. More information about Road to Zero can be found here.

Feedback from public consultation on drug driving

In May and June 2019, the Government consulted the public about possible approaches to improving our drug driving system. Eighty-eight submissions were received.

Many submitters acknowledged the complex and multifaceted nature of the issues under consideration. There were diverging views on a number of aspects of the consultation but some key themes emerged:

  • there is majority support for the introduction of oral fluid testing, though there are concerns about the accuracy of oral fluid testing devices
  • the current Compulsory Impairment Test (CIT) should be used more often
  • most submitters favour a zero-tolerance, presence-based approach to roadside drug testing, though there are concerns about the accuracy of oral fluid testing devices
  • support for random drug testing of drivers is mixed 
  • legal limits for illicit and prescription drugs could be explored in the future
  • drivers impaired by prescription and illicit drugs should be subject to the same penalties but there should be a medical defence for drivers that are not impaired
  • the majority of submitters support a requirement for a second oral fluid test following a failed first test, followed by the taking of a blood sample for evidential purposes
  • a multifaceted approach to penalties is required, including non-enforcement options and health-based initiatives
  • Māori are disproportionately impacted by drug driving enforcement measures
  • raising public awareness about the risks of drug-impaired driving is critical.

The Government will take into account this Summary of Submissions and policy advice from officials as it considers legislative options for enhancements to New Zealand’s current drug-impaired driving regime.

Download the Summary of Submissions [PDF, 1.2 MB]

Changes to the drug driver testing and enforcement system in New Zealand

The Government is considering making changes to New Zealand’s drug driver testing and enforcement regime. Research shows that many illicit and prescription drugs have the potential to impair driving, and studies show that New Zealanders are using those drugs and driving.

Addressing drug impaired driving is an important objective if we are to make our roads safer - since 2013, the number of road deaths in New Zealand has increased by nearly 50 percent. Drug driving is making an increasing contribution to this statistic.

The Government has decided that it is time to reconsider our approach to drug driving and the public should be involved in that conversation.

A Discussion Document has been developed to facilitate a conversation about possible approaches to improving our drug driving system. The consultation seeks feedback about:

  • How we can be better at detecting drug drivers and deterring drug driving?
  • The circumstances in which drivers should be tested for drugs?
  • How to decide which drugs to test for?
  • What evidence is required to establish a drug driving offence?
  • How we should deal with people caught drug driving?

Download the Discussion Document [PDF, 1.4 MB] 

23 May 2019 ERRATUM: please note the attached Discussion Document had a technical error in paragraph 12 that has been corrected. The analysis of blood samples occurred during the period 2013-2018, not between 2014-2018 as previously stated in the document.

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