INDEPENDENT NEWS

Voluntary Driver drug testing riles Road Victims

Published: Tue 14 Nov 2006 09:36 AM
Press release - Candor Trust
Voluntary Driver drug testing riles Road Victims
Candor Trust's members are denouncing the Xmas scheme as 'wimpy, absurd and unable to stop druggy road menaces' and the Trust has requested Police Minister Annette King instead look in to Emergency Regulations.
Several indicators suggest New Zealand's 'Eastern bloc level road toll' may be due to levels of drugged driving unprecedented in other OECD Lands.
'We assume Cabinet is briefed that early findings of the Police drug driving study show just shy of half of drivers killed in car crashes in some high crash regions drove affected by cannabis', said the Trusts Spokesperson, Ms Ford.
The Land Transport Act confers on Government powers to make special rules to reduce high present dangers to road users. Offenders will just laugh in Cops faces if a "let me drug test you - pretty please" softly approach is used, say Trust members.
Canada implemented Emergency measures while decent legislation to deal with the problem was worked through. There administrative licence suspensions are used in most provinces for drug drivers often with low blood alcohol counts to remove potentially dangerous drivers from the road.
Candor see no reason action should not be taken urgently, outside of the criminal code perhaps until the Government gets its legislation in order. 'The priority must be public safety. The epidemic is such we estimate 150 - 250 lives a year are now sacrificed to apathy,' the Trusts Representative said.
Unsupported New Zealand Police pull off a pathetic batting average of round 6 drug driving convictions yearly when 6,000 would be more appropriate. 'We will be disappointed if Annette King does not take seriously her responsibilities to the Public under siege'
'By honoring our request for mandatory cannabis impairment testing, at say half of Xmas checkpoints. Saliva or sweat test, remove keys, enforce driver swapping if wise and a drug demerit system could help reduce the hazard, while overdue legislation is sorted.'
Candor warn if action isn't decisive it's more of the following this Xmas;
David Culverwell (14) was killed by drug driver in head on near Taupo - driver not charged with 'driving under the influence' - just 'careless driving'. The Offender who'd previous suspicious traffic incidents, got 2 months jail.
Mary Radley (60) was killed by a drug driver in a head on - previously charged with "careless driving" several times for incidents, while driving under the influence of drugs. Most recently after writing off 3 cars. For which he was sentenced to a driving skills course, 40 days before he killed.
2 unnamed victims, who were cannabis using Mr Guilds passengers were killed when he pulled out onto Hutt motorway against a red light - Guild faced no charge of 'driving under the influence' and the only driving charge added to his record re this crash was a non representative 'reckless driving' one. Short jail term received.
Typical cases below (accidents in waiting) reflect a culture of mismanagement;
Mr Z.L. - Was this year charged with reckless driving in March then dangerous driving in May. In his defense his lawyer said most of his offending occurs under the influence of drugs (P) - not reflected in Mr Z.L's charges, Candor note.
Mr K.K. - Lately pulled over in Kapiti for loopy driving, breathalysed, let go but drove off wonkily, again pulled over and seen to be hiding something. It was drug paraphernalia and he had bags of methamphetmine in the car and a weapon. Legal difficulties saw him prosecuted for carrying the weapon but not for using his car as one, by perhaps driving while drug impaired.
Victims of drug drivers repeatedly report extreme dissatisfaction that they are not charged for what they actually did - driving impaired - that sentences are therefore too light and repeatedly fail to address the type and cause of offending.
There's no need to wait to see the final results of the Police drug driving study in 2011, which will analyse deceased drug drivers prior convictions. 'It's obvious fraudulent careless driving convictions will be abundant', said Ms Ford.
'They're red flags and the Judiciary must stop encouraging recidivist drug drivers, by ignoring their presence or sending them to driving school. They can only do that if Cops gain the power to drug test suspects'.
ENDS

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