Roadside drug testing improves safety in NSW

What happens if you are stopped by police in NSW for roadside drug testing? Credit Highway Patrol Images

Most of us are so used to driving a car that we forget that it’s an activity that requires a lot of skill, judgement and concentration. Negatively influencing your ability to drive a car can be disastrous, which is why drug testing is carried out on roads in NSW and across Australia.

If you’ve never been pulled up for roadside drug testing, here’s an insight into what takes place and how NSW Police determine whether you are safe to drive:

  • In NSW, mobile roadside drug testing is used to detect four common illegal drugs. These are cannabis, cocaine, ecstasy and methamphetamine.
  • If you are stopped by NSW Police for mobile drug testing, you will be asked to wipe a test stick down your tongue. The test stick indicates if you have any of the above mentioned illegal drugs in your system.
  • Results from the test stick take a few minutes.
  • If you produce a negative result, as most drivers do, you’re allowed to leave and continue on your journey.
  • If, however, your test is positive, you’ll be asked to leave your car and will be taken to a roadside testing van or bus, or back to a police station to provide a saliva sample.
  • This saliva sample will is tested and if it’s positive you’ll be banned from driving for 24 hours. This is a safety measure, to prevent you from driving while still under the influence. At this stage you are not confirmed to be guilty of drug driving.
  • The saliva sample is sent to in an independent laboratory for analysis. If this analysis is positive for illegal drugs then you will face the standard consequences.
  • This is an important point to make. While the initial roadside drug testing is accurate, it’s not 100% accurate or infallible, which is why laboratory analysis is the determining factor.

What are the penalties for failing drug testing in NSW?

If it’s confirmed that you’ve failed a drug test, or you refuse drug testing, the penalties in NSW are quite harsh. For a first time offence, you’ll generally receive a fine of nearly $600 and have your licence suspended for three months. For second and subsequent offences, you’ll be sent to court and potentially face a heftier fine (up to $3300) and a longer suspension.

Since the middle of 2021, NSW also introduced a new law for combined drink and drug driving. What this means, is that if you fail both alcohol testing and drug testing, the penalties will be harsher.

NOTE: While drink driving will continue to be a major focus of NSW Police and police in other jurisdictions, most current research shows that there are more people drug driving in Australia than drink driving. In addition, research shows that more people are dying in roadside accidents with drugs in their system than alcohol.


What happens if you are stopped by police in NSW for roadside drug testing? Credit Highway Patrol Images

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

Leave a comment