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Source: (consider it) Thread: Drug testing welfare recipients
Ian Climacus

Liturgical Slattern
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Government to introduce legislation.

quote:
Those who initially test positive to cannabis, ice or ecstasy will have 80 per cent of their welfare payment quarantined onto "basics cards", which can only be used for certain purchases such as rent, childcare and food.

A second positive test would see the welfare recipient charged for the cost of the test, and referred for treatment.

I've read of drug testing programmes in NZ and some states of the USA, though these appear rather different. From what I understand, and happy to be proven wrong, the US system has had few positive tests for those in its Temporary Assistance for Needy Families programme, and the cost per test ranges from $43 (Mississippi) to $1,148 (!!! - Missouri).

NZ appears to cut payments if you test positive a few times, or you can "confess" and get help. If I read correctly, the tests only apply to pre-employment screening in certain industries. Our tests will apply to students and job seekers.

An instant reaction is drugs are illegal and (my) taxes should not be supporting an illegal habit. But I know it's more complicated than that.

Will it demonise people? Will it lead to crime if 80% of their payment is locked away on a card that can only buy necessities? Can someone on a card be discriminated against, or feel lesser due to using it? Is it a ham-fisted attempt to solve a problem that needs nuanced and careful consideration?

Or is this a needed first step?

Thoughts? Experiences? Comments?

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simontoad
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I don't know why they don't try running properly funded assistance programmes instead of this stuff.

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Crœsos
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The American experience is that such programs are incredibly ineffective yet expensive, serve to add another level of bureaucracy to an already complicated process, and are largely in place to humiliate and degrade poor people (with the racial overtones anything dealing with poor people in the U.S. always seems to carry).

The technical issues involved are that most illegal drugs pass through the body quickly enough to be undetectable by urinalysis 24-48 hours later. Because most users of illegal drugs are able to abstain for a two day period if they know they're going to be tested, or that there's a possibility of them being tested, American programs along these lines have detected very few drug users. (By "very few" I mean in the single digits, or sometimes the low double digits.)

On the other hand this kind of make-work program can be very lucrative for laboratory testing and pharmaceutical companies. The amount of money spent on testing is usually several orders of magnitude greater than the amount recovered by cutting off benefits to the half dozen or so drug users that test positive, even in cases where there's a total benefit cut-off rather than the diversion of funds to tighter control in the proposed program.

In other words, such programs are typically huge boondoggles that serve a secondary purpose of reminding welfare beneficiaries that they can be subjected to humiliation at the hands of the state any time someone in power feels like it, or can just make a quick buck off the process.

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Humani nil a me alienum puto

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LutheranChik
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In Michigan, the provisional drug testing requirement, found, I think, a total of two drug users...at a cost of tens of thousands of dollars. So other than lining the pockets of drug testing company CEOs and giving John and Jane Doe the pleasure of poor- shaming their less prosperous neighbors, I don't see any real benefit.
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Leorning Cniht
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quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
The American experience is that such programs are incredibly ineffective yet expensive, serve to add another level of bureaucracy to an already complicated process, and are largely in place to humiliate and degrade poor people (with the racial overtones anything dealing with poor people in the U.S. always seems to carry).

This. You can compare it to the various voter ID laws. On the surface, it seems reasonable to check that voters are who they claim to be, and it seems reasonable to check that the taxpayer isn't supporting your meth habit.

But in practice, neither of these things are even vaguely significant problems, but are a smokescreen for something else.

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no prophet's flag is set so...

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They may not have loaves nor fishes unless they first pee into a cup. What end do they think they are going to accomplish by this? Are they looking to punish? to make people feel badly? to make it so people avoid collecting welfare for fear of stigmatization?

[ridiculous idea]
I wonder if an entrepreneur might profitably provide vials of urine, which are guaranteed to be free from the vile substances the gov't hates. If I was there, perhaps "Grandma's Urine" would be the name of my business, offering the finest and purest pee, pissed out by the most contented of grandmothers who drink only tea. Though, if they actually watch these awful welfare bums pee into the cup (like they do for Olympic drugs tests), then perhaps we'll have to come up with a robo-pisser apparatus with hose attachment, perhaps squeezed like a bagpipe at the right time or operated via smart phone app. An aiming system might also be needed, perhaps camera equipped for precise aiming.
[/perhaps not as ridiculous as I thought, and if anyone develops it, I want royalties]

[ 23. August 2017, 04:10: Message edited by: no prophet's flag is set so... ]

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mdijon
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This policy will be popular with those that have an image of welfare queens and scroungers squandering the State's resources on drugs. It plays to the Victorian idea of the undeserving poor who need to be taken into hand and managed.

It won't achieve anything positive for all the reasons explained by others and will likely do harm to self-esteem, relationships, and, ironically, represents policy makers squandering resources on their addiction to political grandstanding. If only we had a urine test for that before entry to legislative bodies.

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mdijon nojidm uoɿıqɯ ɯqıɿou
ɯqıɿou uoɿıqɯ nojidm mdijon

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Ian Climacus

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Thanks all for the comments, and the experiences in the US (and the technical issues Crœsos).

I had not thought of racial profiling. Canterbury-Bankstown, the area the trial is occurring in, has a large Middle Eastern and Asian population, but I fear the emphasis here is more on the poor and out-of-work as "bludgers" and deserving of checks on their behaviour. Rather worrying as has been said above.

The quick buck is an interesting view from the side of the administrators, especially given the costs involved.

Can't answer your questions no prophet. I like your business idea, though! [Smile]

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Ian Climacus

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quote:
Originally posted by mdijon:
If only we had a urine test for that before entry to legislative bodies.

I did see a tweet saying the good burghers of our PM's electorate (a very wealthy one) should probably be first to be drug tested as they must've been off their heads to vote for him.

I'd expect an outcry from them if we put your suggestion into place mdijon...

[ 23. August 2017, 06:32: Message edited by: Ian Climacus ]

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Gee D
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There are already provisions, at least in NSW, for drug testing of drivers, much along the lines of testing for blood alcohol content. I assume that similar equipment can be used for those suspected of diverting the money that is meant to feed the poor little ones into drug use????

The programme is just plain stupid though. It may look good to some in the community, but the impracticability must be obvious even to the current batch of government ministers.

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mdijon
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quote:
Originally posted by Gee D:
the impracticability must be obvious even to the current batch of government ministers.

Possibly they don't care provided the politics are good. By the way testing for drugs is more complicated than for alcohol. Alcohol is volatile and can be detected in breath, and it's only one substance. Drugs include many different substances and their detection in urine (or blood) requires more complicated stuff than alcohol.

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mdijon nojidm uoɿıqɯ ɯqıɿou
ɯqıɿou uoɿıqɯ nojidm mdijon

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saysay

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I can't believe I'm saying this, but what Croesos said.

Also, urine tests are ridiculously easy to cheat (sorry no prophet, but I don't think your business would be profitable, at least not in the US).

At best, it's a gigantic waste of money. At worst, it's a humiliating reminder that the state considers some people its property.

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"It's been a long day without you, my friend
I'll tell you all about it when I see you again"
"'Oh sweet baby purple Jesus' - that's a direct quote from a 9 year old - shoutout to purple Jesus."

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Gee D
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I have seen newspaper references to some recent cases here where people have been charged with driving under the influence of drugs where the principal evidence has been of urine testing. My memory is that those cases resulted in convictions.

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Not every Anglican in Sydney is Sydney Anglican

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mdijon
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I'm not saying it can't be done accurately, just that it can't be done in a cheap and cheerful way like alcohol breath testing.

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mdijon nojidm uoɿıqɯ ɯqıɿou
ɯqıɿou uoɿıqɯ nojidm mdijon

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Gee D
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Certainly cheerful for those who pass the test. We've had random breath testing for 35 or so years now. My memory is that the drug tests are only given to those who have been in an accident or for some other reason come to attention.

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Crœsos
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quote:
Originally posted by Gee D:
I have seen newspaper references to some recent cases here where people have been charged with driving under the influence of drugs where the principal evidence has been of urine testing. My memory is that those cases resulted in convictions.

If you've taken drugs recently enough to still be impaired when you're pulled over for a traffic violation, you've taken them recently enough for them to show up in urinalysis. (See my previous post for the kind of time window typically involved.) This almost certainly won't be the case for most of those being tested under the proposed program, who will know in advance that they'll be tested (or at least that they run the chance of being randomly selected for testing).

The biggest exception to this general rule is marijuana, where chronic use can be detected for up to a month after last use. So in practical terms programs like this tend to be de facto marijuana hunts. I'm not sure that it can be convincingly argued that pot use, particularly and specifically, requires these kind exceptionally expensive and intrusive measures to prevent (but only for poor people).

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Humani nil a me alienum puto

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mdijon
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quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
If you've taken drugs recently enough to still be impaired when you're pulled over for a traffic violation, you've taken them recently enough for them to show up in urinalysis.

This is a tangent to your point, but the converse won't be true. That is that drugs may be detectable in urine (or metabolites that are tested for might be) at a point where the effect has worn off.

Also it is very hard to be precise about the quantity of drug, as the concentration in urine depends a lot on how much fluid is being cleared and how efficient the kidneys are at excreting the drug.

[ 23. August 2017, 14:39: Message edited by: mdijon ]

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mdijon nojidm uoɿıqɯ ɯqıɿou
ɯqıɿou uoɿıqɯ nojidm mdijon

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Ethne Alba
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Well i don't know about welfare recipients, but over here in the UK i would (quite genuinely) like some folk subjected to testing:
* local councillors
* MPs
* anyone working on the stock exchange
* anyone who lobbies at Westminster.

That should sort some chaff out...for starters.
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[ 23. August 2017, 16:18: Message edited by: Ethne Alba ]

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Arethosemyfeet
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I think testing elected officials is pretty daft. If they're doing drugs and still doing a good job it's none of my business. If they're doing a terrible job then I want them gone whether they're on drugs or not, and the ballot box is the place to make that happen. I don't think anyone was served by Charles Kennedy's alcohol problem being splashed (if you'll pardon the pun) across the front pages.
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Ethne Alba
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CK was far from my mind.

However various people ..... Who Are Not Welfare Recipients ..... were In my mind. People who have a high profile. Who have responsibility. And in the case of the traders, those who had a positively hedonistic lifestyle and then caused chaos at the stock exchange.


What's all this about checking up on the lifestyles of onlywelfare recipients?
(we call such money transactions "benefit" in the UK, but hey....)
Why not open such intrusion out....?

In the UK we seem to have inherited the very worst of opinions from across the pond.

Those who have to rely on benefit...are not all scroungers or addicts and we would do well to remember that.


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Brenda Clough
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My only advice to you, if you undertake the (entirely laudable) step of applying the same intrusive tests to the legislators as they're imposing upon the helpless and unwilling populace, is that you force the legislators to pay for the tests out of their own pocket. Also they must be tested in the same way, at the same facility or office. That gives them what we Americans term skin in the game. They too must be ushered into a stall to tinkle onto the strip or into the jar, while a bored attendant waits outside to be sure they don't swap jars or pour cola onto the strip. Let them fully feel that pain.

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Gee D
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quote:
Originally posted by mdijon:
quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
If you've taken drugs recently enough to still be impaired when you're pulled over for a traffic violation, you've taken them recently enough for them to show up in urinalysis.

This is a tangent to your point, but the converse won't be true. That is that drugs may be detectable in urine (or metabolites that are tested for might be) at a point where the effect has worn off.

Also it is very hard to be precise about the quantity of drug, as the concentration in urine depends a lot on how much fluid is being cleared and how efficient the kidneys are at excreting the drug.

I suppose that it's rather like the alcohol tests. Just as the offence is driving with more than the prescribed content of alcohol in the blood, as opposed to driving under the influence of alcohol , the offence is driving with the drug traces in your blood.

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Not every Anglican in Sydney is Sydney Anglican

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mdijon
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The difference is that with alcohol the breath test (or blood alcohol test) tests the thing that matters - the alcohol in the blood. There is a direct relationship between alcohol levels in the blood and neurological effect. A heavy user can become increasingly tolerant to these effects, but the point is the biologically active thing is being measured at the point at which it has its effect.

With drug testing on urine, firstly the drug is being tested at the point at which it's been eliminated from the system and secondly it is often a metabolite that is being detected that may not be biologically active anymore.

Cannabis is a good example where urine tests stay positive for many days, long after any drug effect has worn off. Cocaine also has an effect for an hour or so but remains in the urine for a day or two.

With alcohol as soon as you have eliminated the alcohol from your blood then the breath test is negative.

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mdijon nojidm uoɿıqɯ ɯqıɿou
ɯqıɿou uoɿıqɯ nojidm mdijon

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simontoad
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In Victoria we've had drug tests for drivers for - I'm going to guess - about a decade. It's a saliva test. I've seen combined booze and drug testing stations, but they have never pulled me in to the drug testing bit. I'm a bit offended by that. In fact, it's a trigger for a story, so bear with me.

In 1990, I and my girlfriend caught a bus from Amsterdam to Paris. We sat near the front, and after a short while, the telltale whiff of dope smoke penetrated through the bus. The driver used his bus phone.

Surprise, surprise when we got to the French border, the bus drove into the customs area. Everyone had to get off the bus, the luggage was unloaded and everyone collected their bag and we sat down and waited while French customs went through everybody's stuff. Everybody that is except me and my girlfriend. The guy took one look at us and our luggage and ordered us back on the bus. I have never been so ashamed in my life.

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Gee D
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quote:
Originally posted by mdijon:
Cannabis is a good example where urine tests stay positive for many days, long after any drug effect has worn off. Cocaine also has an effect for an hour or so but remains in the urine for a day or two.

According to newspaper reports, several defendants have run that sort of defence, with a complete lack of success. As I said, the offence is driving with it, regardless of any drug effect, and simontoad gives some history. I can't say when the drug tests were introduced in NSW. Random blood alcohol tests are now about 45 years old.

The whole theory is that it makes a prosecution so much simpler. Before the pca tests, a police officer would have to give evidence about observed behaviour and then be cross-examined up hill and down dale on that evidence. Convictions were not all that common. With the pca, it's very rare for there to be an acquittal. The introduction of the test, along with other safety requirements at about the same time - eg compulsory waring of seat belts - saw a dramatic drop in the number of road fatalities, and it's extremely unlikely that any government would repeal it. There's no assertion that I'm aware of that there's been a drop in road fatalities with the drug testing, but again, it would be surprising were the tests to be abandoned.

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mdijon
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quote:
Originally posted by mdijon:
Cannabis is a good example where urine tests stay positive for many days, long after any drug effect has worn off. Cocaine also has an effect for an hour or so but remains in the urine for a day or two.

quote:
Originally posted by Gee D:
According to newspaper reports, several defendants have run that sort of defence, with a complete lack of success. As I said, the offence is driving with it, regardless of any drug effect, and simontoad gives some history.

I don't know about those court instances. If a driver is driving erratically and in addition has a positive urine test for a substance, it seems to me that the fact the drug in his/her urine might on theoretical grounds not necessarily be associated with the erratic driving is a weak defence and the case would be strong. And given the suspicion occasioned by erratic driving it seems proportionate to test for drugs.

If one conducts a random test on a motorist stopped for a tail-light offence then it seems to me not proportionate to test for drugs, and any positive result in urine wouldn't be good evidence of driving under the influence.

Having said that saliva is different to urine. Saliva is a much better reflection of tissue levels of a compound than urine is, and is much closer to the blood concentrations reflecting "under the influence" than urine. If one was testing for a metabolite that wasn't biologically active there is a problem in relating that to "under the influence.

One can increase the precision with which use is known by measuring the metabolites and the active drug. In simple terms, a lot of active drug and a few immediate metabolites is likely to indicate recent use. A lot of long-term metabolites and no active drug is unlikely to indicate recent use.

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mdijon nojidm uoɿıqɯ ɯqıɿou
ɯqıɿou uoɿıqɯ nojidm mdijon

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Gee D
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quote:
Originally posted by mdijon:
I don't know about those court instances. If a driver is driving erratically and in addition has a positive urine test for a substance, it seems to me that the fact the drug in his/her urine might on theoretical grounds not necessarily be associated with the erratic driving is a weak defence and the case would be strong. And given the suspicion occasioned by erratic driving it seems proportionate to test for drugs.

But as I said, the offence is not related to the manner of driving but to driving with either more than the prescribed content of alcohol in blood, or with illegal drugs showing up in testing. The defence which was unsuccessfully attempted was to say that while the drug may have been present, it had no effect on the driving. This page will give a quick outline of what's permitted, what's not.

I only know of the drug cases via newspaper reports. They have been before the lowest level criminal courts. I'm not aware of any appeal to a superior court, which would be properly reported.

Random tests do not depend upon an accident or any other matter. You are driving along, and with other drivers are drawn to the kerb. The test's administered and if there's a positive result, you're taken to the local station for charging etc.

[ 25. August 2017, 11:48: Message edited by: Gee D ]

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Not every Anglican in Sydney is Sydney Anglican

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mdijon
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In the sense that use and possession of those drugs is illegal I understand the internal consistency of that approach. But I'd say it doesn't seem logical to target drivers for random checks that, for reasons given above, don't have a strong relationship with being under the influence.

Why not have spot checks in offices, churches and pedestrian crossings as well?

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mdijon nojidm uoɿıqɯ ɯqıɿou
ɯqıɿou uoɿıqɯ nojidm mdijon

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Gee D
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To go back to your "disproportionate" remarks - there is no disproportion as the offence is not the tail lamp one but driving with more than the prescribed content of alcohol in your bloodstream.

The introduction of random breath-testing here in the early 1970s had a very great correlation with a substantial and rapid drop in the numbers of road fatalities. The introduction of the breath-testing did coincide with other measures, such as the compulsory wearing of seat belts, which probably contributed as well. The drop also occurred in the deaths of pedestrians, for whom these other measures were irrelevant. Not absolutely conclusive proof, but enough for most people.

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Not every Anglican in Sydney is Sydney Anglican

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mdijon
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If the law allows or mandates random tests then the grounds are irrelevant, I agree.

I'm very much more in favour of random breath alcohol tests than random drug tests simply because the correlation between alcohol in breath and driving under the influence is extremely close. So it seems fair enough to say anyone testing positive above a certain limit is driving irresponsibly. I can well believe that deterring drivers from drinking alcohol has reduced the accident rate.

I would be against random drugs testing of drivers for the reasons described above that make a correlation between positive tests and driving under the influence quite weak. If the point is simply to clamp down on drug use because drugs are bad then there is no logic in going after drivers. The population should just as logically be subjected to random testing in the street, in churches, cafes and any public place.

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mdijon nojidm uoɿıqɯ ɯqıɿou
ɯqıɿou uoɿıqɯ nojidm mdijon

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Ian Climacus

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NSW Police conduct road drug tests orally via swiping the tongue. A saliva test is done on a positive result. Does that change your view?

[ 26. August 2017, 05:31: Message edited by: Ian Climacus ]

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mdijon
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"Mobile Drug Testing (MDT) operates alongside RBT for alcohol and police also have the power to test drivers they believe may be under the influence of illegal or prescription drugs."

I'm fine with testing of drivers who are driving erratically. It's the completely random testing of drivers that bothers me more.

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Ian Climacus

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Oh, I see. So even random alcohol tests are problematic, in your view? Only those swerving or speeding should be stopped?

I'm on the other side...happy to be tested anytime. But I think I see your view.

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Gee D
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quote:
Originally posted by Ian Climacus:
Oh, I see. So even random alcohol tests are problematic, in your view? Only those swerving or speeding should be stopped?

I'm on the other side...happy to be tested anytime. But I think I see your view.

I think most people here would be quite happy with random testing. After all, it's been in place for 45 years or more and people are accustomed to it, and then on top of that there was the high correlation between the introduction of the testing and the drop in road deaths.

Mdijon, you seem caught on driving under the influence rather than looking at the offence of driving with more than the prescribed content in the blood. The driving under the influence offences remain, but for the reasons I've given are simply not used.

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mdijon
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No, not exactly what I think (to both of you).

With alcohol I'm happy with random testing because there is a very close relationship between alcohol on the breath and being under the influence.

It's therefore reasonable to write a law that says more than x level of alcohol plus driving equals offence, and to mandate police to test for that randomly.

(There's a separate question though about how you stop that being abused to harass people, but I'll leave that aside to discuss the principle here).

With drugs there are plenty of drugs like cannabis which remain in the system for weeks. So writing a law that says a certain level of cannabis plus driving equals an offence is pretty much like saying we don't want people who smoke the occasional joint to ever drive.

If we are motivated by road safety then that doesn't seem a proportionate response.

If we're doing that because people who take drugs should be caught in any way possible, then fair enough but we should take it to its logical conclusion and test the whole population randomly whenever we conveniently can.

Personally I wouldn't want that, but if we really want the war on drugs that's the way to go.

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Alan Cresswell

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If even the smallest amount of a drug in your blood impairs your ability to drive (or, do other things which could potentially impact the health and safety of others) then it makes sense that driving in that condition is an offense - it makes no sense to me to have the law to be different for alcohol and other substances. The question is actually one of whether tests that can be easily administered by the police (at the road side or back in the station) actually reflect the amount of the active drug in blood - breath tests for alcohol are generally accepted, but can be followed by blood tests if needed. Urine tests for many drugs don't generally correlate with blood concentrations at the time of the test. Blood tests tend to be much more accurate, but also harder to administer (much more invasive than peeing in a pot or taking a saliva swab, plus you need to have procedures for handling sharps, and in many places a minimal level of medical training to take blood).

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Arethosemyfeet
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Here I'd just be happy if they tested people driving off from the bar at 11pm.
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mdijon
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quote:
Originally posted by Alan Cresswell:
- it makes no sense to me to have the law to be different for alcohol and other substances.

Not even for the drug dynamics and kinetics I described above?
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Alan Cresswell

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quote:
Originally posted by mdijon:
quote:
Originally posted by Alan Cresswell:
- it makes no sense to me to have the law to be different for alcohol and other substances.

Not even for the drug dynamics and kinetics I described above?
The important dynamic is common to alcohol and drugs. When present in the blood stream they impair the ability to drive, and thus create a hazard to other people. Therefore, if you have a law that states it is illegal to drive with more than 50mg alcohol per 100ml of blood, there shouldn't be a different form of the law for other intoxicating substances - a legal limit for how much tetrahydrocannabinol per 100ml of blood would create a similar impediment to driving safely, for example.

The question about how you devise a means of testing for and quantifying THC, or other active compounds for other drugs, is a separate issue to do with enforcement of the law rather than the law itself.

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mdijon
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That's kinda the point though. It's very difficult to define that intoxicating limit in a situation where there is cross-reaction with metabolites that aren't intoxicating.

I agree that were we in a situation where one could do a test with a close relationship with intoxicating blood levels of drugs as there is for alcohol there would be no logic in a different law.

But we aren't, and therefore to write that off as an enforcement issue when it is essential to confront the issue of inactive metabolites vs active drugs and their distinction in the tests used in framing the law seems head-in-the-sand about a salient point.

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Gee D
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quote:
Originally posted by mdijon:
That's kinda the point though. It's very difficult to define that intoxicating limit in a situation where there is cross-reaction with metabolites that aren't intoxicating.

But we aren't, and therefore to write that off as an enforcement issue when it is essential to confront the issue of inactive metabolites vs active drugs and their distinction in the tests used in framing the law seems head-in-the-sand about a salient point.

Of course it is difficult to define a point, and perhaps different for each person. The limits set out in the table I linked to are no doubt arbitrary, but a value of an arbitrary limit is that it is easily capable of testing and is non-discriminatory, points which are much harder to make for the old tests for driving under the influence.

Randomness - there is the capacity to harass any particular person should the police wish to do so. Other remedies are available to deal with any such behaviour. But here, every driver involved in an accident to which police are called is tested (subject to any medical issue arising from injury of course, and that is dealt with by blood sample). Otherwise, the common testing is that traffic is proceeding along a road and comes to a testing point. A half dozen drivers are drawn over, tested, and those that pass are sent on their way. Another half dozen are drawn over and so forth. A bit of a nuisance but an accepted one. Those that don't pass find themselves chauffeured to a police station for a blood test and charging.

Your position seems strange to me, a person who has spent most of his adult life with breath-testing in place. It reminds me of the great campaign for road safety in the US in the early 1970s. At great expense, cars were fitted with gadgets to remind people to fasten seatbelts and so forth, but not one bit of legislation to make it compulsory to actually wear a simple device of proven ability to reduce the extent of injury. It was said to be an infringement of civil liberty.

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Alan Cresswell

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quote:
Originally posted by mdijon:
That's kinda the point though. It's very difficult to define that intoxicating limit in a situation where there is cross-reaction with metabolites that aren't intoxicating.

No, it's easy to define the limit: x mg/100ml of THC (or other intoxicating compounds). What is almost certainly difficult is measuring that concentration. Especially if tests are indirect, measuring metabolites for example.

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Ricardus
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quote:
Originally posted by Gee D:

Your position seems strange to me, a person who has spent most of his adult life with breath-testing in place.

mdijon's position on drug-driving seems reasonable to me. AIUI what he's getting at is the situation where someone has a spliff on Monday, is cognitively unimpaired by Wednesday, drives out of the house, and is picked up by a random spot-check which finds traces of cannabis still in his urine. He is then prosecuted for drug-driving.

Is your position:

a.) If he's got traces of cannabis in his urine, then by definition he's driving under the influence of cannabis; or

b.) Tough luck, he shouldn't have been taking cannabis in the first place?

Because (a) is (AIUI) contrary to the science and if your view is (b) then why just limit random testing to motorists?

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Arethosemyfeet
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Perhaps the future of testing is not trying to test for drugs or alcohol but to test instead for cognitive impairment - police carry a laptop (perhaps with VR goggles) and run a hazard perception and reaction test if they have reason to be concerned about someone's ability to drive. Change the charge to one of "driving while unfit" and you deal with the drunks, the drugged up, those who should have surrendered their licence due to age, and those who shouldn't be driving because they're ill or sleep deprived. You could make the software widely available and people could test before leaving a pub or restaurant. Then it becomes entirely about whether you're safe to drive.
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Gee D
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I'm simply stating what the position here is and has been for 45 or more years now in the case of alcohol and more recently for at least cannabis - perhaps other drugs, I don't know. And as I've said many times to mdijon, the offence is not driving under the influence DUI, but driving with more than the prescribed content of alcohol in your blood. The separation from the old DUI days is made clear if you look at the table I linked to. The prescribed content for learner drivers and those on their P plates is zero. I'd be very surprised if someone with an alcohol content of 0.01 could be said to be under the influence.

As to your last sentence, you cannot legally drive on a public road unless you have a licence. It is an inherently dangerous activity and the imposition of a whole range of restrictions is a legitimate government function.

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Alan Cresswell

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# 31

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quote:
Originally posted by Arethosemyfeet:
Perhaps the future of testing is not trying to test for drugs or alcohol but to test instead for cognitive impairment - police carry a laptop (perhaps with VR goggles) and run a hazard perception and reaction test if they have reason to be concerned about someone's ability to drive.

The issue being one of time. To run such a test, which is a high-tech version of the existing sobriety tests of walking a straight line etc, would take a lot more time than a breathalyser test. The move towards quicker tests was that the police have better things to do than spend half an hour or more running such tests every time they pull over someone who has been driving erratically.

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mdijon
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quote:
Originally posted by Alan Cresswell:
No, it's easy to define the limit: x mg/100ml of THC (or other intoxicating compounds). What is almost certainly difficult is measuring that concentration. Especially if tests are indirect, measuring metabolites for example.

Exactly. And it seems to me that an easily defined but unmeasurable limit is not a useful practical basis for framing legislation.

Ricardus has my position in a nutshell - wish I'd written what he'd written.

GeeD, I'm fine with breath testing. It's the illogicalities in the position on drug testing that I'm questioning.

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Gee D
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I do not understand what illogicalities there may or may not be in the drug testing, but either way ignores the offence. That is not driving under the influence, either of alcohol or cannabis, but driving with x amount in the blood.

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mdijon
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I'm suggesting the law should be framed differently from how you say it is currently framed. For the reasons I described earlier, the definition of the offence seems illogical to me. I realise that once the law is written the implementation has to be consistent with that, what I'm suggesting is that it has been written wrongly.

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simontoad
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The offence in Victoria, AIUI, is not related to whether you are pissed or shitfaced in some manner, but whether you yourself are in a condition proscribed by legislation when driving a car. Gee has said this a number of times, and yet the phrase "under the influence", or variations like "perfectly OK to drive" keep cropping up.

You are allowed to walk down the street in that condition, you're allowed to ride on public transport, as long as you behave yourself. You can't ride a bike on the road in that condition, nor, as a mate of mine found out, can you ride a lawn mower down to the pub and through the drive-through. You do achieve legend status for doing that last one.

The difference between driving a car, as distinct from riding a bike or other combustion vehicle very slowly down the road, is that you CAN BLOODY KILL SOMEONE. Now you might well say that if you smoke a Cumberland Carrot on a Sunday night, then you are perfectly OK to drive your four-wheeled death machine to KFC two days later. Personally, I'd like to see the evidence. My lived experience suggests otherwise. I don't know how many times I didn't notice a traffic light, a turn arrow, or went up the wrong side of the street as a younger driver. I even one night became convinced that a dinosaur was crossing the road ahead of me and slammed on the brakes. My passengers were happy to get home that night. In my defence, it was windy.

[ 27. August 2017, 11:33: Message edited by: simontoad ]

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