Increasingly drug use and alcohol are associated with road crashes and driving fatalities. A 2003 survey of 19-23 year olds in Victoria found that more than half used such drugs. In that same year, a total of 31% of drivers killed tested positive to drugs other than alcohol. 28% of drivers killed had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.05% or more. A driver who has recently consumed an amphetamine, cannabis or ecstasy is at the same risk of having a crash as a driver with a blood alcohol concentration above 0.05% mg/100 ml.
From December 2003, the Victorian Parliament passed legislation empowering police to randomly test drivers for the presence of the active component of cannabis (tetrahydrocannabinol or THC), methamphetamines (speed, ice and crystal meth) and ecstasy.
To test for the drugs, drivers will be stopped at random and asked to submit a saliva sample. Drivers saliva sample will be tested using an absorbent collector. To collect saliva drivers will be asked to touch their tongues to the collector, place it in their mouth or chew on it. Drivers who return positive results from the first test will be required to provide a second sample.
A second positive test, drivers will be interviewed by the police and allowed to leave but not drive. Further positive samples must be confirmed by laboratory analysis before proceeding with the charges.
The saliva test will not detect prescribed drugs or common over the counter medications, such as cold & flue tablets. The device to be used can detect THC for several hours after use. This can often result in drivers with an active residue of THC in their bodies detected next morning. Methamphetamines (speed) may be detected for approximately 24 hours after use. Random roadside drug testing will take about 5 minutes. Subsequent samples are provided on positive tests, will take about 30 minutes.
The detection of illicit drugs in a person's saliva test results in prosecution regardless whether that person is impaired by the drug. Severe penalties apply.
DRIVING WHILE IMPAIRED
Driving a car while under the influence of drugs impact on driver performance. Police in Victoria are able to arrest drivers they suspect of driving while impaired by a drug. The driver first take the impairment test and then provide a blood or urine sample, which is tested for the presence of various drugs.
They include depressants such as cannabis, methadone and heroin, stimulants such as speed, cocaine and esctasy and hallucinogens such as LSD. Some prescription drugs can also affect driving. For example, tranquillising drugs such as rohypnol and oxazepam can make users drowsy.
Drivers in Victoria can be tested for impairment using the Standarised Field Sobriety Test, in which drivers are required to perform certain tasks.
Task one - The police asks the driver to look at an object such as a pen or a finger held about 30 centimetres in front of the driver's eyes above eye-level. Drivers are then asked to track the object with their eyes as it is moved slowly to the side. The test is designed to evaluate the degree to which the driver is suffering from nystagmus - the involuntary jerking of the eye that occurs when the eye look to the side.
Task two - The second task is the 'walk and turn'. The driver must take nine heel-to-toe steps in a straight line, turn around and repeat the steps in the opposite direction.
Task three - The third task is the 'one leg stand'. Drivers are asked to stand with their arms at their sides and to hold one leg at least 15 centimetres above the ground for 30 seconds, counting out the numbers of second. Severe penalties apply.
BLOOD ALCOHOL CONCENTRATION
Blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is a measurement of the amount of alcohol in your body. A meaurement of 0.05 BAC means 0.05 grams (50 milligrams) of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood. In Victoria it is an offence driving with a BAC level of 0.05% or above. The legal limit for probationary and professional drivers is zero BAC. This include driving on private property. Severe penalties apply.
DRUG DRIVING AFFECTS.
Some people think they are 'good' drivers and try to counteract any impairments to their driving ability. Such an approach will lead drivers having an altered view and experience of reality and may actually be unaware of how much their driving skills are affected.
* reduce your ability to think clearly making it difficult to perform a multiple of tasks in order to drive safely
* blurred vision/reduced hearing
* slow down reaction times especially in unexpected situations
* make you feel more confident resulting in increased risk taking
* more relaxed, less concentration leading to falling asleep
The relative probability of crashing at BAC level 0.05 is two times. At 0.15 BAC the relative crash risk is 25 times more than if you had not been drinking.
CANNABIS (Marijuana, hashish, pot, grass, dope, weed, joint)
Cannabis interferes with a person's motor and coordination skills, vision and perceptions of time and space. THC (the active component in cannabis) impair mental function and reduces attention and concentration on the driving task, resulting in an increase crash risk by slowing down reactions and relexces and affects driving even when there are no signs of impairment. It can cause paranoia, drowsiness and a sense of disorientation. The potential consequences of cannabis includes: an increased risk on cancer of the lung; mouth, throat and tongue; hallucinations, paranoid thinking; memory and impairment; mood swings; weight gain and other mental health problems.
METHAMPHETAMINES ( Speed, uppers, ice, meth, crystal)
The dangers of using methamphetamines causes an over confidence in driving skills resulting in taking unecessary risks. Speed increases risk taking aggression, and are often used by drivers to temporarily allow them to continue to drive even when fatigued. Once the amphetamines have worn off, the driver can suddenly fall asleep. The potential consequences of speed include: severe depression; violent behaviours, paronia; hallucinations; anxiety; high blood pressure; panic attacks and a very high risk of addiction.
COCAINE ( Crack, coke, happy dust, flake)
The potential consequences of cocaine include: respiratory problems; convulsions; cardiac arrest; hallucinations; violent or erratic behaviour; ulceration of the mucus membrane of the nose.
HALLUCINOGENS ( LSD, trips, magic mushrooms, angel dust)
The potential consequences of hallucinogens include depression; paranoia; anxiety, violent behaviour; impaired judgement and coordination; self inflicted injury.
INHALANTS (laughing gas, poppers, rush)
The potential consequences inhalants include; sudden death; suffocation; brain damage; heart trouble; severe depression; noise bleeds and reckless behaviour.
DEPRESSANTS (Benjos, temazzies, valuim, tranks, rohypnol, serapax)
The potential consequences of depressants includes suicide, depression, insomnia, anxiety and addiction.
OPIOIDS ( Heroin, codeine, MS codeine, morphine)
The potential consequences include deaths; HIV and hepatitis infections through sharing of needles; addiction; mood swings; depression and anxiety.
ACCREDITED PROGRAMS DRUG SUPPORT SERVICES
POLICE & AMBULANCE: 000
1) DIRECT LINE: PHONE 1800 888 236
24 hour confidential alcohol & drug counselling & referral
2) LIFELINE: 13 11 14 (24 hours) www.lifeline.org.au
3) KIDS HELP LINE: 1800 55 1800 www.kidshelp.com.au
24 hour counselling for 5-25 year olds
4) YSASLINE: 1800 014 446
Youth Substance Abuse Services 24 hour information & referral
5) Poisons Information Centre: 13 11 26
6) Family Drug Help: ph: (03) 9573 1780
(Melb. Mon-Fri 9:00am-5:00pm) ah: 1300 660 068
For people concerned about a relative or friend using drugs
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION:
If you think you have a problem with drugs or know someone that you think may have a problem, the first step to getting help is talking to a counsellor/health professional or someone else you can trust and chat with, such a friend or family member.
Counsellors and health professionals can provide you with confidential advice and refer you to a drug service that is right for you.
You can take this first step by:
- phoning Directline on 1800 888 236, which is a 24 hour telephone counselling, information and referral service.
- contacting a drug referral and counselling service in your area
- visiting a doctor or local health service.
The Next Step
Counsellors, doctors and health professionals are able to help you if you have a problem with drugs. They have worked with lots of young people and can be trusted to be completely confidential.
To begin with they will do an initial assessment of your drug problem and then refer you to a service where you can get the help you need.
If you have a friend or family member who has a problem with drugs, counsellors, doctors and health professionals are also able to provide you with advice on how to help the person in need. Sometimes it just helps to talk to someone who doesn’t know the person directly.
To get help for an alcohol or drug issue - PLEASE CLICK ON THE LINK BELOW
The fact sheets complement the resources developed for the promotion of the Australian Alcohol Guidelines by providing more detailed information on the Guideline messages as well as data, policy responses and resources on alcohol. The 25 fact sheets cover 25 topics within four broad categories: Please click on the link below.