Roadside drug testing: The magic 12-hour rule

DEFENCE lawyer Steve Bolt used Tuesday's forum to spell out a line of defence to cannabis users.

He offered the audience the advice they should visit the Centre For Road Safety's web page, Drugs and Driving, and read the section that states "cannabis can typically be detected in saliva by an MDT test stick for up to 12 hours after use".

"They added the word 'typically the day after the Police v Joseph Carrall case in Lismore this month," he said.

"If you therefore wait at least 12 hours after using cannabis you can reasonably expect it will not be detected, according to advice provided by the NSW Government. A precedent has been set which could allow you to test this in court. The onus is on the prosecution to prove otherwise."

But, he said, there was no guaranteed outcome as ultimately it was up to the magistrate.

How the drug tests work

If your roadside swab test is negative, that is the end of the matter.

If it is positive you will be taken away for further saliva testing.

Once you have been tested it takes months for your sample to get to the lab for analysis.

The lab tests for even the tiniest trace amounts of only three drugs: Cannabis, MDMA (ecstacy) and speed/crystal meth (ice).

Even if the test says you are in the clear and fine to drive you may receive a court attendance notice in the mail months later with a potential consequence of up to a $1100 fine and six months licence suspension.

For a first offence you will sometimes - not always - get a Section 10 order, meaning no fine or recorded conviction. This can only happen once.


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