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The Drug Foundation welcomes the announcement by the Government that will give Police the tools they need to tackle drug driving.

“The Government’s announcement sends a clear message to New Zealanders that drug driving is illegal and that the Government is committed to investing and providing the tools and resources needed to police to ensure that this law is enforced,” said Ross Bell, NZ Drug Foundation Executive Director.

The intention of the law is to get impaired drivers off the road, reducing harm to themselves and others.

"However, it is important to add that that the presence of a drug in blood, oral fluid or urine does not necessarily mean the person is impaired at the time of the test.

“Saliva screening tests aren’t without flaws, with length of time to conduct the tests and risks around false positive and negative readings still being weaknesses. But, as we saw with alcohol screening devices, investment by the Government means technology will improve. It is important that Police are supported with the necessary tools and resources to train their officers and oversee how the screening programme is implemented.”

An expert group, that includes scientists and researchers, will advise the Government and Police on what equates to impairment levels in line with that of alcohol and how this can be practically implemented to a screening programme.

“Notwithstanding potential weaknesses, we endorse these initial steps to ensure safer roads, especially in light of the draft Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill, which caused some debate around how this would impact drug driving laws.

“Our research tells us that one of the biggest reservations people have with the cannabis referendum is how drug driving will be enforced. This initiative shows that the Government is taking the right precautions to ensure that drug driving not only remains illegal but is enforced. New Zealanders can be more confident that the Police are getting the essential tools required to enforce these drug driving laws in the lead up to the referendum.” said Mr Bell.

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