Government has 'no plan' to change 'inaccurate' advice
THE NSW Centre for Road Safety has responded to calls by a Lismore magistrate to alter drug-driving advice given to the public.
The suggestion that cannabis "can typically be detected in saliva by an MDT test stick for up to 12 hours after use", as stated on the CRS website, saw a prosecution case before Lismore Local Court come unstuck.
Rappville man Robert Nicholas Ambros Collier, 34, was stopped for a roadside drug test on Nimbin Rd at Goolmangar about 12 noon on May 5 last year.
He'd smoked cannabis some 43 hours earlier and accepted the 12-hour window suggested by the CRS as accurate and reliable.
This advice was used in his successful defence of mistaken fact and he was found not guilty of driving with an illicit drug in his system.
When Magistrate David Heilpern gave his judgment on Wednesday, he said the government's advice was "neither fair nor accurate."
He called on the CRS to amend its advice to the public, stressing medicinal cannabis laws and the compounding hardships associated with a loss of licence in regional communities could tend to worsen penalties for those with a minute amount of the drug in their system.
CRS executive director Bernard Carlon said mobile drug testing was "designed to deter drivers who have recently used illicit drugs from taking the risk of driving".
"In 2018, 69 people were killed in crashes involving a driver or rider with an illicit drug, including THC, speed, ice, ecstasy and cocaine, present in their system," he said.
"Any member of the community who has used illegal drugs is advised to be conservative when making the decision to resume driving."
In a statement, the CRS said general information on its website was "based on the test devices used for roadside screening in NSW" and had been "verified with an expert pharmacologist".
"It makes very clear that the actual time that a substance is detectable in a person's system depends on the drug or drugs taken, the dosage and the potency of the drug," they said.
"Individuals vary, and heavy or excessive drug use may extend the effects of different drugs."
They said the information was "not legal advice" and "provides an indication to drivers that drugs can stay in their system for a significant period".
"No previous request to review the website has been received from Courts," they said.
"There are no current plans to change the approach to drug driving enforcement in NSW."
The CRS was also asked whether there was any evidence the offence Mr Collier faced - which is distinct from the charge of driving under the influence - had improved road safety in any material way, but they provided no direct response to this.