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Source: (consider it) Thread: Drug testing welfare recipients
Leorning Cniht
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quote:
Originally posted by Ricardus:
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.

I agree with this. Driving whilst not being impaired by drugs, but having consumed drugs in the recent past, should not be a crime (or perhaps it should be the same crime as having used the illegal drugs at all).

Historically, thresholds haven't mattered to much to drug testing people. If you get a positive test for illegal drugs, you fail, and get fired / don't get hired / whatever.

In an environment where medicinal or recreational use of certain drugs is permitted, this is obviously far from acceptable.

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Leorning Cniht
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quote:
Originally posted by simontoad:
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.

Well, yes. We understand what GeeD has said. We (or at least I) think it has no relation at all to any kind of justice, and is about as reasonable as a law proscribing driving whilst wearing yellow.

The reason that driving under the influence of whatever substance is a problem is that it impairs your driving. As you point out,
quote:

YOU CAN BLOODY KILL SOMEONE.

We agree. The question then becomes at what times in your cycle of recreational substance usage are your chances of BLOODY KILLING SOMEONE significantly increased.

quote:
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.
Yes, that's the question. I've never smoked any kind of carrot, but my recollection of my college days is that those of us who did indulge and those who didn't were pretty indistinguishable in lectures the next day.

Which is beside the point - making law by anecdote is a decidedly bad idea. The effects of alcohol on driving are well known and well measured, and inform the setting of legal limits. A similar effort for other intoxicants is required.

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mdijon
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quote:
Originally posted by simontoad:
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.

I get the way the account of the way the law is currently written, what I'm discussing is whether the law is logically consistent.

The point about "under the influence" is to draw a distinction between the situation where someone has smoked some cannabis, is currently a bit happy, and shouldn't really be behind a wheel... and the situation where someone smoked some cannabis last week, has been sober for 6 and a half days, and yet has cannabis metabolites in their urine and would fail a drugs test.

In a sense it's fine to say they are a drug user, and if that is an offence they can be charged for it, but the logic of saying that is anything to do with driving safety seems lacking.

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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 Leorning Cniht:
quote:
Originally posted by simontoad:
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.

Well, yes. We understand what GeeD has said. We (or at least I) think it has no relation at all to any kind of justice, and is about as reasonable as a law proscribing driving whilst wearing yellow.

I'm far from sure that at least until the last hour or so "we understand" has been at all obvious from some posts. There's been a constant reference to erratic driving etc, a complete irrelevance as you now accept.

As to the end of the section I've quoted, any explanation for the correlation between the initial legislation and the substantial drop in road deaths I've referred to?

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mdijon
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quote:
Originally posted by simontoad:
Personally, I'd like to see the evidence.

I missed this bit earlier. There is evidence and it's an interesting read if you wade through. And it isn't straightforward. Although the immediate intoxicating effects of cannabis seem to wear off in a matter of hours, there is lots of evidence (albeit mostly in small studies) that other effects on attention and decision making are very long lasting. Some even get worse on abstinence.

I'm not sure what to make of it though, because again the logical precautionary response would be a life-time ban on on anyone who has ever habitually used cannabis. I'm not sure anyone would want that.

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mdijon nojidm uoɿıqɯ ɯqıɿou
ɯqıɿou uoɿıqɯ nojidm mdijon

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mdijon
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quote:
Originally posted by Gee D:
As to the end of the section I've quoted, any explanation for the correlation between the initial legislation and the substantial drop in road deaths I've referred to?

Deterring alcohol and drug use prior to driving are both quite likely candidates. If we gave life-time driving bans to anyone with drink or drug related offences we would probably also improve road safety. Raising the minimum age of license holding would also improve road safety.

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mdijon nojidm uoɿıqɯ ɯqıɿou
ɯqıɿou uoɿıqɯ nojidm mdijon

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Alan Cresswell

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quote:
Originally posted by mdijon:
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.

Though, that is the way the law (in the UK at least, AIUI) is framed, whether or not the active component of a drug (with a list that includes several legal drugs) exceeds a given concentration in blood. Which will always be measureable - the necessary equipment is widely available, but it would need collecting a blood sample and sending it to a lab for analysis (with potentially several days for a result).

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mdijon
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My understanding is that in the UK there needs to be a reason for the test. If you take someone who has just driven into a tree and test them for drugs then the pre-test probability of dealing with someone who is actually intoxicated is higher than if you select someone at random.

Hence, although we know there are imperfections in interpreting drug levels and metabolites, the likelihood that one is genuinely dealing with a road safety issue is higher than if people are just chosen at random.

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mdijon nojidm uoɿıqɯ ɯqıɿou
ɯqıɿou uoɿıqɯ nojidm mdijon

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simontoad
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both is even better, huh?

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Leorning Cniht
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quote:
Originally posted by Gee D:
I'm far from sure that at least until the last hour or so "we understand" has been at all obvious from some posts. There's been a constant reference to erratic driving etc, a complete irrelevance as you now accept.

Erratic driving etc. is irrelevant to your ass-backward law. But that's because the way you presented your law has no relation to actual justice.

The reason for having laws about driving under the influence of various substances is that they impair your driving - they make you more dangerous. If you (and "you" here has to mean an average person) do not show significant impairment with a certain concentration of some intoxicant in your blood, there is no justification for making it illegal to drive with that level of intoxication present.

So if a person would fail whatever drug test is mandated in NSW, or the whole of Australia, or wherever, but does not have impaired driving, then the law, and the test, is unjust.

You might argue with some degree of reasonableness that illegal drugs are illegal anyway, and you don't much care about being a bit unjust to users of illegal drugs.

You cannot make that argument in an environment where drug use is legal.

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mdijon
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quote:
Originally posted by simontoad:
both is even better, huh?

Both what?

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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 Leorning Cniht:
quote:
Originally posted by Gee D:
I'm far from sure that at least until the last hour or so "we understand" has been at all obvious from some posts. There's been a constant reference to erratic driving etc, a complete irrelevance as you now accept.

Erratic driving etc. is irrelevant to your ass-backward law. But that's because the way you presented your law has no relation to actual justice.

The reason for having laws about driving under the influence of various substances is that they impair your driving - they make you more dangerous. If you (and "you" here has to mean an average person) do not show significant impairment with a certain concentration of some intoxicant in your blood, there is no justification for making it illegal to drive with that level of intoxication present.

So if a person would fail whatever drug test is mandated in NSW, or the whole of Australia, or wherever, but does not have impaired driving, then the law, and the test, is unjust.

You might argue with some degree of reasonableness that illegal drugs are illegal anyway, and you don't much care about being a bit unjust to users of illegal drugs.

You cannot make that argument in an environment where drug use is legal.

What would you say about the very strict laws here on gun ownership? And what is unjust about testing for alcohol/drug testing, when the evidence is of the substantial drop in the numbers of road deaths after the introduction of random testing?

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Leorning Cniht
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quote:
Originally posted by Gee D:
What would you say about the very strict laws here on gun ownership?

I'm more or less in favour (I don't know all the details of your gun laws, but I'm sure I'd prefer them to what the US has.)

quote:

And what is unjust about testing for alcohol/drug testing, when the evidence is of the substantial drop in the numbers of road deaths after the introduction of random testing?

There's nothing unjust about testing - there is an injustice if the thing being tested isn't actually the thing causing the impairment.

With blood/breath tests for alcohol, the thing being tested (alcohol content) is the thing that causes the driving impairment, and you can say with confidence that a typical person with BAC over 0.08 is going to have increased his accident risk by a factor of 4-ish (that's from memory, but I think it's about the right size). That's a bigger increase than the normal day-to-day variation in risk for a responsible driver, and so a defensible place to draw a line and say "you've made yourself too unsafe". You can defend 0.05 as well (which I think is more like a factor of 2) but I don't think you can make a defensible case for a lower limit than that.

I am being told in this thread that the tests used for drugs (as opposed to alcohol) tend to indicate failure for some time after the drugs have stopped causing an impairment (because they're testing for metabolytes with longer biological half-lives rather than the drug itself). That's the bit that's unjust - a test that purports to indicate an unfitness to drive when the person regained their fitness to drive some hours earlier.

(Assuming that Australia is anything like most other places, I'd assume that the vast majority of the accident reduction is caused by the alcohol test. We know that people think they can drive better than they can, and drunk people think they are less impaired than they actually are. It makes perfect sense that someone would think "I'm OK to drive after three or four pints - I'll just take things easy" and also "I am over the legal limit, and there's a chance I might be randomly stopped, so although I think I can drive OK, I won't risk the penalties.")

(We have random DUI checkpoints here from time to time. I've never actually seen one, but I'm not usually driving around town on a Friday night. They're infrequent enough that I suspect they're used more as an awareness thing than a deterrent. Most DUI stops here are patrol cars stopping speeders or erratic drivers. I have a friend who drives a beat up old truck, and used to work an evening shift. He'd get off work at half past midnight, and drive home past several bars. He told me he had a cop follow him for a mile or so every evening for a week, assuming that he'd been drinking at the bar.)

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simontoad
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Many drugs are illegal here, including the old mary jane.

As I understand it from a post above, the impairment lasts longer than the high. You can be back in your tree, so to speak, but still dangerous on the roads.

I suppose this begs the question, but driving a car is not a right, legal or human. It's been determined in Victoria that if you have a certain level of certain substances in your body, it's unsafe for you to drive. You have no right to drive in those circumstances. This is a political judgement as much as a scientific or policing judgement. Further, as the batsman about to make a century said to the sledging keeper, "Scoreboard". This stuff works.

How many more people are killed or injured in traffic accidents than in terrorist attacks? I lick my finger, stick it in the air and say squillions. The rights of the community to safer roads outweigh the rights of drug users and drinkers to drive on them, even if they are not stonkered when they exceed the proscribed level.

And if we are serious about road safety, we will test people when they have a smash and randomly, so that people will plan not to drive when they have the relevant level of substance in their blood. That was exactly my behavior as a young man. I didn't drink when I drove (mostly) and I was afraid of getting caught. I drove when I got stoned because the rozzers couldn't test for it.

Incidentally, it's not just being ripped that's unlawful here, it's anything that distracts you while you are driving. If you use your phone, eat a hamburger, drink a coke, change a CD, adjust your GPS, etc. etc. you can get a ticket at the discretion of the Cop who sees you. If you are doing those things and have a serious accident, you can go to jail and people have.

Road safety is everyone's right and expectation. Community rights trump anybody's limited and conditional licence to drive.

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mdijon
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quote:
Originally posted by simontoad:
I suppose this begs the question, but driving a car is not a right, legal or human.

Sure. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't try to be fair about who loses that privilege.

quote:
Originally posted by simontoad:
It's been determined in Victoria that if you have a certain level of certain substances in your body, it's unsafe for you to drive. You have no right to drive in those circumstances. This is a political judgement as much as a scientific or policing judgement.

Shouldn't we be able to ask questions about how the political judgement diverges from the science and policing? It seems to me one could justify anything by saying "it's a political judgement" otherwise.

quote:
Originally posted by simontoad:
Further, as the batsman about to make a century said to the sledging keeper, "Scoreboard". This stuff works.... The rights of the community to safer roads outweigh the rights of drug users and drinkers to drive on them, even if they are not stonkered when they exceed the proscribed level.

So how about life-time driving bans for anyone ever involved in a drugs offence? That would very likely improve road safety. Would you support it?

The follow up would be simply raising the minimum age for driving. That would likewise improve safety.

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mdijon nojidm uoɿıqɯ ɯqıɿou
ɯqıɿou uoɿıqɯ nojidm mdijon

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Gee D
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Leorning Cniht, a few late night comments:

A person may appear to be driving without impairment in normal conditions. What about reaction under emergency?

To own a firearm requires a licence and very strict requirements for safeguarding it.

At about the same time as the random etc breath tests were introduced, there was a range of other measures taken to reduce or minimise injuries or fatalities in road accidents, including the compulsory use of seatbelts*. Obviously that would have had quite some effect, but not on the death of or injury to pedestrians. Those numbers also dropped so it's a fair inference that the test had some beneficial results.

* In the US, all sorts or steps were taken to force manufacturers and importers to install seat belts, provide warning bells if they were not connected, devices on dashboards to caste bad spells on the sex lives of noncompliant drivers etc - but no offence of failure to wear one. A very different culture.

[ 28. August 2017, 13:09: Message edited by: Gee D ]

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Leorning Cniht
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quote:
Originally posted by Gee D:

A person may appear to be driving without impairment in normal conditions. What about reaction under emergency?

In the case of alcohol, the accident risks are well-measured. That would include reaction under emergency conditions. And yes, I agree - someone who is just over the limit is likely to be able to drive perfectly safely in low traffic if nothing unusual happens; it's when something happens that he's much more likely to have an accident. I'm sure this contributes to the fact that drunk people think they're more able to drive than they really are.

Once again, it's a question of whether people's driving is actually impaired.

It is completely reasonable to prevent people from driving when they have some kind of chemical impairment, and it's reasonable to institute whatever kind of testing scheme you can get people to agree to.

It is not reasonable to punish someone because the drug test says that they would have been impaired yesterday. They weren't driving yesterday.

[ 28. August 2017, 13:39: Message edited by: Leorning Cniht ]

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Lamb Chopped
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quote:
Originally posted by Leorning Cniht:

It is not reasonable to punish someone because the drug test says that they would have been impaired yesterday. They weren't driving yesterday.

... but it IS reasonable to say to the general public, "These are the limits of our current technology. Plan accordingly so you don't end up whining for special treatment because our test is not sensitive enough to detect that you are in the x-hour safe-to-drive-but-our-test-says-not window."

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Leorning Cniht
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quote:
Originally posted by Lamb Chopped:
... but it IS reasonable to say to the general public, "These are the limits of our current technology. Plan accordingly so you don't end up whining for special treatment because our test is not sensitive enough to detect that you are in the x-hour safe-to-drive-but-our-test-says-not window."

Is it? Perhaps whether or not it is reasonable depends on how different the timescales of the test and the impairment are. If it's an hour or two, I might shrug and agree with you.

But let's use alcohol as an example, because most of us are more familiar with it. We all agree that someone who goes to the bar and has three or four pints shouldn't drive home. We also all, I think, agree that someone who had three or four pints in the bar yesterday evening is perfectly fine to drive to work the next morning.

If the standard test for alcohol consumption produced a positive result the morning after you had three pints, it would never have been used. We'd be relying on making people walk in straight lines touching their fingers to their noses or whatever.

Nobody* would tell someone to plan accordingly and not drink the evening before they intend to drive a car, and nobody* would accuse someone who pointed out that perhaps there was something just a little unjust with this idea of "whining".

In an environment where drug use is legal (and plenty of drug impairments are caused by completely legal prescription medication, not just recreational substances), a test that produces a false positive the morning after shouldn't be acceptable. It shouldn't be used - it's worse than the field sobriety nose-pointing assessment.

If we're talking about illegal drugs - well, maybe you can shrug and say that people shouldn't take them anyway, so you don't really care whether you jail some extra druggies.

I don't find much justice in that idea, but I suppose YMMV.


*very few people.

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Lamb Chopped
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Here's where we're thinking differently. I would throw in the 'walk a straight line' or 'touch your nose' or whatever as an integral part of the test. To do otherwise is to rely on half of the resources available for evaluating someone.

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mdijon
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Actually that's a big part of how I'm thinking. (If I read you right that is). If you hit a pedestrian at a zebra crossing (or less dramatically, look a bit wobbly and can't touch your nose), and then test positive for a substance that *might* not be intoxicating at that point in time but sometimes is, then I think you're for it and deserve to be booked. A not-so-good test is still worth doing to find out that this erratically driving individual is also a fairly-recent-drug-using individual.

If on the other hand you are stopped at random and test positive then I want the test to be really good. I don't want someone to be stopped at random and prosecuted for a non-intoxicating level of something.

For my money, alcohol breath testing meets the standards of a really good test, I'm not sure some of the other drugs tests do. I haven't looked through each in turn, likely some are quite good tests and could theoretically be used at random. But it may not be cost-effective given that you are doing relatively complicated tests that don't detect everything. (Although the deterrence effect alone might be worth something).

[ 28. August 2017, 16:03: Message edited by: mdijon ]

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mdijon nojidm uoɿıqɯ ɯqıɿou
ɯqıɿou uoɿıqɯ nojidm mdijon

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Alan Cresswell

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quote:
Originally posted by Leorning Cniht:
But let's use alcohol as an example, because most of us are more familiar with it. We all agree that someone who goes to the bar and has three or four pints shouldn't drive home. We also all, I think, agree that someone who had three or four pints in the bar yesterday evening is perfectly fine to drive to work the next morning.

I'm not sure we would all agree about the second part (it'll depend on what you mean by "evening" to an extent). Four pints is about 8 units, and it takes about an hour for a unit to clear the blood stream. Therefore, if you had 8 pints up until midnight, that would have only just cleared at 8am. If, for whatever reason, your body is a bit slower at clearing alcohol from the body you could still easily be over the 50mg/100ml blood alcohol limit. Which is why at certain times of the year (running up to Christmas, for example) the police catch a lot of people driving over the limit after drinking the previous night.

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Leorning Cniht
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quote:
Originally posted by Lamb Chopped:
Here's where we're thinking differently. I would throw in the 'walk a straight line' or 'touch your nose' or whatever as an integral part of the test. To do otherwise is to rely on half of the resources available for evaluating someone.

If we're talking about people being convicted on a "false positive" drug test, then I think we have to assume that they passed (or would pass) whatever kind of field sobriety nose-touching test is on offer.

Following mdijon, if you hit a pedestrian, or wobble all over the road, that looks like prima facie evidence that you are driving without due care and attention. It is possible that you are unfit through drink, or drugs, or tiredness, or maybe you're just an idiot changing the cd in your music system or changing your pants.

If your driving shows evidence of impairment, and you also fail a test that indicates that you have used a particular intoxicating substance some time in the last two days, that's probably presumptive evidence that that intoxicant is the cause of your impairment.

But if you don't show signs of impairment, but fail that test, it doesn't mean much at all.

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Leorning Cniht
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quote:
Originally posted by Alan Cresswell:
I'm not sure we would all agree about the second part (it'll depend on what you mean by "evening" to an extent).

Yes, that's a fair point (and also on how early you set of for work the next morning). I was rather assuming that you were consuming your beer steadily over the course of the evening, rather than downing four pints at midnight, and under that assumption, the chances of a man who drinks four pints between let's say 8 and 11pm being unfit to drive at 7 or 8 the next morning are small.

But it's always worth pointing out that you can be unfit the next morning from a big session the night before - alcohol is broken down in a zero order reaction, where the rate of breakdown is independent of the concentration. It's a linear relationship - you lose a unit per hour. So if you have an extra pint (2-3 units, depending on what kind of beer you drink) it'll take an extra 2-3 hours for you to sober up.

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For reference, for people who don't carry these numbers around in their heads, one unit of alcohol is worth about 0.015 BAC in a typical man.

So our man who drinks four pints (8-12 units, depending on what beer he likes) would have a BAC of between 0.12 and .18 if he drank it all at once.

He starts drinking at 8, and leaves the pub/bar at 11. At that point, he's spent 3 hours** metabolizing alcohol, and is down to a BAC of between 0.075 and 0.135. He shouldn't drive home, although if he drinks weak beer and is lucky, he might just squeak under the legal 0.08 limit in England*. The limit's 0.05 in Scotland, though.

Our average man will cross the Scottish legal limit at some point between midnight and five the next morning, depending on the strength of his beer, and will have eliminated all the alcohol in his body by between four and eight am.

For Mr. Average to be over the Scottish 0.05 limit at 8am the next morning on his drive to work, with all the other assumptions intact, he'd have had to consume a bit more than 15 units the previous evening, which might be 5 pints or so, if he likes strongish beer. Or a bottle and a half of wine. That's quite a lot to drink, but not an inconceivable amount at a party where people are getting drunk - hence Alan's morning-after-the-Christmas-party point. And if he's at a party that goes on late, it's even easier to drink that much without feeling excessively drunk at any point.

(You can add on to that the fact that if he's come home drunk from a party that went on late, then he will also sleep poorly. So not only might he still be unfit through drink the next morning, but he might also be unfit through tiredness.)

*These are averages. People vary. The variations are mostly person-to-person though - the response of a particular person will be pretty similar each time. You can speed up the rate of alcohol metabolism a little bit if you eat a meal first, but the effect isn't very big. You can make it worse by getting liver disease, or by taking certain medications. That's really it - drinking water or strong coffee afterwards or the next morning makes no difference to the speed at which you eliminate the alcohol.

**This is a bit wrong - you should add maybe half an hour to all the times to account for the absorption time of the first drink: you can't start eliminating the alcohol until it's in your system.

***It should be obvious, but given the nature of the subject, I'll make this explicit. This is not advice. These are averages, and you are probably not average.

[ 28. August 2017, 21:01: Message edited by: Leorning Cniht ]

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Alan Cresswell

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The key words in there are "typical" and "average". And, no one is average.

I guess there are two types of people.

Those who assume they're slower at metabolising alcohol or that they're more affected by alcohol. Like me. If I'm going to be driving in the next 3-4 hours I will not drink any alcohol. If I'm driving the next morning (so, get home, 8h sleep plus 1-2h after waking up before getting in the car) I'll have no more than a couple of pints.

Those who assume they can handle alcohol better, metabolise it quicker. And, then have too much.

I know what I'd prefer people to be when it comes to the safety of others.

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There's also questions of whether you actually ARE a man--women tend to mass less--and what else you had to eat or drink (and when), whether you have any metabolic variants that affect how fast you clear alcohol. I'd be willing to bet I've got a variant that clears more slowly. We've got American Indian ancestry, and my folks just weren't drinking for all those millennia.

Chances are you're not going to BE tested chemically unless you fail the obvious coordination etc. tests, or show signs of impairment. Not many populations have to put up with random chemical tests, and those that do are normally aware of that fact, as well as the test order-ers knowing that there are legitimate uses for certain otherwise-questionable drugs. By which I mean that I wouldn't expect an authority to just rain down blanket condemnation on anybody who tested positive for hydrocodone in the past week (or whatever), because that could be due to legal and legitimate use.

Of course, if the orderers of the tests are jerks, all bets are off.

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Alan Cresswell

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quote:
Originally posted by Lamb Chopped:
Not many populations have to put up with random chemical tests

Though, several governments seem intent on forcing random tests on some of their populations - specifically those need welfare support. At the same time as the majority of the people who elected them would be up in arms if they were forced to undergo random tests while driving.

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quote:
Originally posted by Leorning Cniht:
quote:
Originally posted by Gee D:

A person may appear to be driving without impairment in normal conditions. What about reaction under emergency?

Once again, it's a question of whether people's driving is actually impaired.

It is completely reasonable to prevent people from driving when they have some kind of chemical impairment, and it's reasonable to institute whatever kind of testing scheme you can get people to agree to.

All too often, the sign of impairment is the body of a pedestrian on the road.

As to the recovery rate: breath testing on the morning after a night of rejoicing - New Year's Day, grand final the night before etc - will pick up a very large number of people still well over the limit, many saying they thought they'd "slept it off".

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Leorning Cniht
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quote:
Originally posted by Alan Cresswell:

Those who assume they can handle alcohol better, metabolise it quicker. And, then have too much.

Particularly when they see "handling" alcohol as a sign of manliness or something.

I'll stand by my claim that Mr. Four-Pints is really unlikely to be over the limit the next morning (although I'll admit that I was thinking of the US/English 0.08 limit when I wrote that; the average man will take two extra hours to get from the US/English limit down to the Scottish one.)

Personally the amount I'm prepared to drink depends on the kind of driving I'm going to do. I'll have a pint or two with lunch and drive home on rare occasions - I'm under the legal limit, and although I accept that my risk of having an accident is higher than if I hadn't had a drink, it's a short drive on familiar roads without heavy traffic, and without significant hazards (no crowded pedestrian areas etc.), so my accident risk is still small in absolute terms.

If I'm driving into the city (unfamiliar roads, complicated traffic patterns, general chaos, lots of random pedestrians, need to navigate to unfamiliar destination) I want to be both completely sober and well-rested. (Various studies suggest that being at the legal BAC limit and having only had 5 hours sleep the previous night are similar in terms of increased accident risk.)


Lamb Chopped: yes, women mass less, and a bunch of other things. That means you get more BAC per unit of alcohol. OTOH, women tend to metabolize alcohol faster than men, so if a man and a woman drink to the same level of drunkenness (which means the woman will have had fewer drinks), the woman will on average sober up a bit faster. Possibly, this is because proportionately more of the average woman's body mass is liver.

quote:
Originally posted by Lamb Chopped:
Not many populations have to put up with random chemical tests, and those that do are normally aware of that fact, as well as the test order-ers knowing that there are legitimate uses for certain otherwise-questionable drugs. By which I mean that I wouldn't expect an authority to just rain down blanket condemnation on anybody who tested positive for hydrocodone in the past week (or whatever), because that could be due to legal and legitimate use.

Of course, if the orderers of the tests are jerks, all bets are off.

The discussion began with GeeD talking about the random drug and alcohol tests in Australia, so that was the context.

Whether or not there are "legitimate" uses for the drug is irrelevant when it comes to driving impairment. If you're taking opiate painkillers prescribed quite legitimately by your doctor because you have significant pain, because of reasons, you're not safe to drive even though you have a legitimate reason for having the drugs. If you took illegal drugs yesterday, you are probably driving at your normal standard today, even though you don't have a "legitimate" reason for the drugs.

My claim in this thread is that a random drug test for drivers is only acceptable if it measures something that tells you about the current or recent past impairment of the driver. A random test to discover that some driver has used marijuana at some point in the last 72 hours is exactly a test ordered by jerks, and is almost completely unrelated to driving safety.

(I don't actually know how the drug tests used on GeeD's random motorists perform, so all this argument has been based on "if they work this way, that's OK. If they work that way, that's horrible.")

We understand how alcohol tests work, and we understand that the thing that they measure is exactly the thing that causes the increased accident risk. If drug tests work in the same way, then hat's great - I'm entirely happy for them to be used on drivers at random checkpoints or whatever.

But the speculation on this thread was that they did not work in the same way, and that they would show a positive result long after the impairment has vanished. That's a problem.

[ 28. August 2017, 22:19: Message edited by: Leorning Cniht ]

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simontoad
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tldr from my last post, but the point I wish to emphasise is that having random tests changes people's behavior. They plan not to drive if they know there's a chance of a random test. I did that with booze as a young man, and I reckon young people now do it with both booze and drugs. Obviously, I didn't give a rats arse for other road users when I was young, I just wanted my fun as Father Stack says in Father Ted. But I needed my drivers license, so I took steps to ensure that when I tried Polish Vodka with a mate at a party, I could pass out on the floor next to him without getting booted out the door at 3am.

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mdijon
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Random tests of drivers is what I thought we were talking about at one point in this thread. As LC says I don't think many populations put up with random testing. Apart from NSW drivers, athletes and sportmen and women are the other group I can think of.

As a general principle if you want to test people randomly you have to have a very good test to avoid lots of false positives. Alcohol breath testing is a very good test and I'm happy with it being applied randomly, and I'm sure it does change behaviour.

Drug testing is often less good, and for that reason I would be against it being applied randomly. I'm sure there would be an effect of changing behaviour, but I'm not sure I like the idea of introducing a law that might not be very logical on the basis that it will achieve some pragmatic aim.

As I said above, banning once-ever-drug-offenders from driving for life would be effective as a road safety measure, but I don't think it would be a fair or proportionate response.

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Gee D
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quote:
Originally posted by mdijon:
Random tests of drivers is what I thought we were talking about at one point in this thread. As LC says I don't think many populations put up with random testing. Apart from NSW drivers, athletes and sportmen and women are the other group I can think of.

Oz generally AFAIK, not just NSW. Very little opposition to start with, and I'd be surprised if there were any at all now. The substantial drop in road deaths was enough to satisfy any qualms that had remained.

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mdijon
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Out of interest I did a google on "australia law random drug test motorist" and the links that appear show me that all is not as rosy as you make out, GeeD.

The Australian Lawyers Alliance doesn't agree, tests seem to be scaling back recently and there seems to be general confusion about the application and in fact someone did get off based on a prolonged positive result for cannabis.

So I also looked up the death rates on the roads in Australia.

Alcohol breath testing came in around the 70s, so we can't see the effect of that. Quite plausibly is was associated with a reduction in deaths though, I accept that. If I understand right from the other sources, the drugs testing has been introduced more recently. I don't see abruptly plummeting death rates at any point in the statistics, just a general decline.

GeeD, I don't think your representation of the situation does justice to what look like more diverse views on Australia on the matter, and the statistical support doesn't quite add up.

[ 29. August 2017, 07:42: Message edited by: mdijon ]

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Gee D
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I had never heard of that organisation, and a check of the site shows a board I've never heard of either. I did a quick survey of a half dozen of us on the floor, and none of the others had heard of it either. I wouldn't be placing much weight on it until I knew a lot more about it.

There is no proof of a drop in road fatalities due to random testing. At about the same time it came in, there were other road safety initiatives including compulsory seat belt wearing for front seat occupants. That's why I've been very careful to talk of a correlation, not proof. Nor am I talking of the strictly technical testing matters that you and Learning Cniht have drawn attention to.

Carrall's case was not on the testing either but on lack of intent. I don't think that takes away anything from what I've said.

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mdijon
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quote:
Originally posted by Gee D:
There is no proof of a drop in road fatalities due to random testing. At about the same time it came in, there were other road safety initiatives including compulsory seat belt wearing for front seat occupants.

This seems mixed up. Random breath testing came in in the 70s. Seat belt wearing came in during the 70s and 80s. Random drugs testing has become increasingly adopted after 2010. From one of those links;

quote:
Of the 36,000 drug tests police have administered to NSW drivers in 2015, Insp Blair said almost 12 percent returned positive readings
That sounds vastly excessive to me. But in any case, it is hard to argue it has had much of a deterrent effect before 2015, and it doesn't look to me like there has been any drop in road traffic accidents even associated with the drug testing.

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Gee D
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How does that affect the comments I've been making about random testing for alcohol?

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I agreed with those comments. It was on drugs that I didn't agree.

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Gee D
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I agree with the principle of random testing for drugs and alcohol. I had understood that you and Learning Cniht disagreed with the principle for each, and in relation to testing for drugs to the methodology as well. If you agree with the principle as to alcohol, how can you object in principle to the testing for drugs?

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It's not the principle of drugs testing that I have a problem with, it's the situation in practice which is the result of drug metabolism leading to a different practical constrain on what can be tested for. If we had a great test that reliably identified intoxicating levels of active drug then I'd be much happier with random testing of motorists.

I'm surprised you hadn't picked up on my position. I thought it was pretty clear in these posts that I was distinguishing between alcohol and drugs.

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Alan Cresswell

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quote:
Originally posted by mdijon:
quote:
Of the 36,000 drug tests police have administered to NSW drivers in 2015, Insp Blair said almost 12 percent returned positive readings
That sounds vastly excessive to me.
It sounds excessive to me too, for random and reliable drug tests. An excess of positive readings could result from a large proportion of false-positive results (I've heard of people failing tests because they like poppy-seeded bread products, and poppy-seeds contain trace quantities of opiates). And, of course, if a large proportion of those 36,000 tests were conducted where there was already evidence of intoxication (eg: for erratic behaviour) then that would also result in a rate of positive results in excess of the rate of drug use in the population.

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Leorning Cniht
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quote:
Originally posted by Gee D:
I agree with the principle of random testing for drugs and alcohol. I had understood that you and Learning Cniht disagreed with the principle for each, and in relation to testing for drugs to the methodology as well. If you agree with the principle as to alcohol, how can you object in principle to the testing for drugs?

I don't, in general, oppose the principle of random testing. It is not the principle that I am opposing - you seem to have misunderstood what I have been saying.

If you have a test which reliably indicates that someone is unfit to drive through some substance or other, and does not produce false positives when that person is fit to drive again, then great. We know that blood and breath tests for alcohol meet this standard.

Both mdijon and I have been objecting to the idea of using tests that do not have that property in a random fashion. So if the test you use indicates that the person used marijuana at some point in the last 3 days, it's worthless, and using it as a random test for drivers is unjust.

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Gee D
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As I have said, I'm not in a position to debate the accuracy or otherwise of either the drug or alcohol tests; there being testing, I assume a view contrary to yours.

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Leorning Cniht
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quote:
Originally posted by Gee D:
As I have said, I'm not in a position to debate the accuracy or otherwise of either the drug or alcohol tests; there being testing, I assume a view contrary to yours.

I'm not assuming a view. I'm saying that if a particular drug test behaves like he alcohol tests, it's fine, but if it behaves like the drug tests that indicate that someone has used drugs in the last few days (or even longer) then it's very much not fine.

Earlier in this thread, you made this statement, which is what I was objecting to:

quote:
Originally posted by Gee D:
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.

You're not assuming that the tests are sensible - you're saying that you don't care whether the tests are sensible because the law says that if you fail the test you're guilty, and you care about the convenience of being able to prosecute someone who might have used drugs in recent days rather than the injustice of prosecuting someone who has used drugs, and then carefully waited until he was no longer impaired before driving.

There are two arguments associated with random testing. There's a philosophical argument that applies to any test whatsoever - perhaps someone wants to argue on some kind of libertarian grounds that random testing should be forbidden.

But the second argument is to do with the efficacy of the test. Once we have agreed in principle that random testing is OK, then we need to look at how the result of the proposed test correlates with driving impairment.

Once you accept the principle of random testing, whether particular testing is just or not depends entirely on the strength of this correlation.

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Gee D
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quote:
Originally posted by Leorning Cniht:
quote:
Originally posted by Gee D:

Earlier in this thread, you made this statement, which is what I was objecting to:

quote:
Originally posted by Gee D:
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.

You're not assuming that the tests are sensible - you're saying that you don't care whether the tests are sensible because the law says that if you fail the test you're guilty, and you care about the convenience of being able to prosecute someone who might have used drugs in recent days rather than the injustice of prosecuting someone who has used drugs, and then carefully waited until he was no longer impaired before driving.
You know that that's not what I said, and that you're engaging in the cheap debating trick of attributing a comment to the opponent, one which you're capable of demolishing, rather than deal with what's actually being said.

[ 30. August 2017, 03:43: Message edited by: Gee D ]

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mdijon
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quote:
Originally posted by Gee D:
As I have said, I'm not in a position to debate the accuracy or otherwise of either the drug or alcohol tests; there being testing, I assume a view contrary to yours.

The accuracy of drug testing is central to my argument. And it seems to me central to the justice of a random drug testing policy.

It's difficult to make progress without the possibility of debating it.

Perhaps you could comment on the idea that, arguendo, were it the case that biologically inactive metabolites were positive for prolonged periods of time, then the approach of random testing is undermined?

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quote:
Originally posted by Alan Cresswell:
It sounds excessive to me too, for random and reliable drug tests. An excess of positive readings could result from a large proportion of false-positive results (I've heard of people failing tests because they like poppy-seeded bread products, and poppy-seeds contain trace quantities of opiates).

The implication in the article is that these were part of the random testing roll-out. If the positives come from anyone who has smoked cannabis in the last 2 weeks, or anyone using a prescription pain-killer including an opiate, then I could imagine that contributing considerably to the 12%.

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Gee D
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quote:
Originally posted by mdijon:
quote:
Originally posted by Gee D:
As I have said, I'm not in a position to debate the accuracy or otherwise of either the drug or alcohol tests; there being testing, I assume a view contrary to yours.

The accuracy of drug testing is central to my argument. And it seems to me central to the justice of a random drug testing policy.

It's difficult to make progress without the possibility of debating it.

Perhaps you could comment on the idea that, arguendo, were it the case that biologically inactive metabolites were positive for prolonged periods of time, then the approach of random testing is undermined?

To start with I'd need an English translation of what you mean by your last paragraph.

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Cannabis is inhaled. When inhaled there are two groups of substances, let's say A and B, that are absorbed into the bloodstream. Let's say substances in group B cause you to be intoxicated.

Substance B leaves the bloodstream over 2/3 hrs. It does so, in part, by being converted to substance C.

Substances A and C take a few days to leave the bloodstream, and traces of substance C can be detected weeks down the line.

Substances A and C have no intoxicating effect, but they do show up in the drugs screen.

My argument is that, under these circumstances, it would be unfair to conduct random tests that cannot distinguish between A, B and C as a way of randomly screening drivers in the name of road safety.

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mdijon nojidm uoɿıqɯ ɯqıɿou
ɯqıɿou uoɿıqɯ nojidm mdijon

Posts: 12277 | From: UK | Registered: Sep 2004  |  IP: Logged
Gee D
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If that were the case, then I agree with you.

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Not every Anglican in Sydney is Sydney Anglican

Posts: 6770 | From: Warrawee NSW Australia | Registered: Jun 2008  |  IP: Logged



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