Are positive drug testing penalties fair?

Are penalties for those that fail roadside drug testing too harsh or too lenient?

If you look at comments on our blogs and other articles about roadside drug testing, you could easily think the majority of people believe the penalties are too harsh or, in some cases, that we shouldn’t be conducting roadside drug testing at all. But, it’s fair to say there are many less outspoken people who don’t agree with this opinion. And there are some who are not afraid to voice their thoughts.

Take the case of Lisa Di Donato, who was killed when her car was hit by a ute driven by a driver who smoked ICE for breakfast. The driver was sentenced to a maximum eight years in prison, but could be out in as little as five years.

Her mother, Elena Di Donato, appeared on 7 News Melbourne on the weekend, dismayed that the penalties for people who fail roadside drug testing isn’t harsh enough.

“Going through the whole judicial system… It leaves you disappointed,” she said in the news segment. “There are consequences, but they have to be harsh consequences.”

Drug testing penalties softer than alcohol testing

The Victorian opposition agrees, saying that the penalties for drug driving are in some cases softer than for driving while over the alcohol limit.

Opposition leader Michael O’Brien said, “They shouldn’t be softer than drink driving penalties, they should be just as tough.”

They want the maximum fine for a drug impaired driver to be lifted from just under $2000 to over $3000. And they want the fine for those that fail drug testing to be lifted from just under $500 to around $1000. They also want a dramatic rise in the number of drug tests conducted on Victorian roads; an extra 1000 per week.

“Frankly that’s a small price to pay for keeping Victorians safe,” Mr O’Brien added.

Premier Daniel Andrews countered in the 7 News segment with: “We take our lead on these matters, not from people who are particularly irrelevant, but from those that are in charge.”

The argument for roadside drug testing isn’t just confined to Australia. A short distance away in New Zealand, a mother has presented a petition to an MP asking for random roadside drug testing to be introduced on New Zealand’s roads, according to an article in the NZ Herald.

The petition was presented on what would have been her son’s 25th birthday. He was killed by a woman who had been drinking alcohol, and smoking ICE and cannabis. The fatality occurred on New Year’s Eve 2017. The alcohol and drug affected driver was sentenced to three-and-a-half years jail.

The MP, Nick Smith, said he felt extremely sad for the mother, who should have been celebrating her son’s birthday, not having to go through the anguish of mourning her son and petitioning for harsher penalties.

“I can’t think of anything as tough as losing a child, and all the worse for the tragic circumstances that occurred New Year’s Eve before last,” Smith said in the article.

He added that the mother’s son was the 79th person in 2017 to be killed by a drugged driver on NZ’s roads, a number higher than those killed by drunk drivers.


Are penalties for those that fail roadside drug testing too harsh or too lenient? Credit Carlos Ebert

By Michael

Michael is the founder of Integrity Sampling and is responsible for overseeing all national operations. He is based at Integrity Sampling's head office in Melbourne and is also responsible for the co-ordination of drug and alcohol testing within Victoria, assisting in the implementation of drug and alcohol (fit for work) policies and the presentation of drug and alcohol education and awareness programs. You can connect with Michael Wheeldon on LinkedIn

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