Driver Drug Testing – THC Detection of Drivers in South Australia
Submission Date: 2011
Presenter: A/Sergeant Peter Thompson Authors: A/Sergeant Peter Thompson Affiliations: South Australia Police Title: DRIVER DRUG TESTING “ THC DETECTIONS OF DRIVERS IN SOUTH AUSTRALIA Objective: The objective of this paper is to present the success of the driver drug testing regime that has been established in South Australia since 2006, particularly with the results achieved in the detection of THC. Methods: The detection of THC in oral fluid with devices using immunoassay technology is not without its problems. Operating conditions along with a drug that binds itself to the collection devices presents challenges for both the manufacturers and users of the device. Taking into account the time frames available to enforcement officers to detect THC being only 5 hours compared to 24 hours for the amphetamine based substances, the challenges to detect large amount of THC in a roadside testing environment are considerable. Legislation to introduce roadside driver drug testing into South Australia using either saliva or blood became operative on 1 July, 2006. Three drugs were proscribed with the introduction of the regime being: ïƒ˜ Methylamphetmaine ïƒ˜ Delta 9 Tetrahydrocannabinol ïƒ˜ 3,4 Methylenedioxymethamphetamine South Australia Police (SAPOL) currently uses two oral fluid collection devices as a part of the regime established in South Australia. The devices utilised are: ïƒ˜ Securetec Drugwipe II Twin ïƒ˜ Cozart DDS Results: SAPOL presently screens 40,000 drivers for drugs per year. With a population base of 1.64 million people, SAPOL screens drivers for drugs approximately 4 times greater than any other Australian jurisdiction. South Australia currently detects more THC than other proscribed drugs under its existing regime. This trend is against national detection rates for THC. A breakdown on the success of the regime and the results obtained will be provided as part of the presentation. Conclusions: Unlike other jurisdictions, legislation in South Australia requires all enforcement officers to be authorised before they can undertake the duties of driver drug testing. SAPOL has decentralised its driver drug testing functions across the State and has significant training requirements for its officers to undertake this task. The training requirement coupled with the long term establishment of officers conducting these duties is seen as a contributing factor in the success of the detection of THC.