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» Ship of Fools   » Community discussion   » Purgatory   » Drug testing welfare recipients (Page 3)

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Source: (consider it) Thread: Drug testing welfare recipients
simontoad
Ship's Amphibian
# 18096

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If you're right, you'd make a killing getting people off drug driving charges. Get qualified and hang out your shingle.

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The opinions expressed above are transitory emotional responses and do not necessarily reflect the considered views of the author.

Posts: 1013 | From: Romsey, Vic, AU | Registered: May 2014  |  IP: Logged
Alan Cresswell

Mad Scientist 先生
# 31

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If the law is written in terms of measurement of secondary indicators of drug use - metabolites in saliva, for example - then if the test shows you have exceeded that measure there doesn't seem to be much of a way to get out of it, beyond challenging the law itself (and, how many people would want the hassle to taking their case to the highest courts in the land over an unfair test that gives you an unfair driving offence? Especially if so doing means you are publicly declaring a history of using illegal drugs?).

The law may be unfair and stupid, but if that's what the law is then it's not an easy thing to challenge an individual conviction.

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Don't Brexit if you haven't a scooby how to fix it.

Posts: 31965 | From: East Kilbride (Scotland) or 福島 | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Gee D
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# 13815

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And indeed, the successful case referred to above did not deal with the question of the test, but on whether the defendant had the intent to drive, the magistrate finding that intent was necessary.

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Not every Anglican in Sydney is Sydney Anglican

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Leorning Cniht
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# 17564

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quote:
Originally posted by Gee D:
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.

I thought it was a pretty fair paraphrase. In response to mdijon's comment about urine tests for cannabis and cocaine showing positive long after the effects of the drug have worn off, you said that the offence was failing the test rather than showing effects of intoxication (fine - that's a statement of fact concerning Australian law), and commented approvingly that doing it that way made prosecution much simpler.

Making that comment in direct response to a statement about tests showing positive results long after the intoxicating effects have passed seems to imply exactly that 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."

Although I note that you have now agreed with mdijon, so perhaps you didn't understand earlier that the substance that the drug test was testing for was not the intoxicating substance.

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Gee D
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# 13815

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It was not a fair paraphrase, nor even a paraphrase. There was neither approval or disapproval in what I said. I simply set out the argument made at the time that the offence of driving with more than the prescribed content of alcohol in your blood was introduced. What you inferred is a matter for you, but there was no implication by me.

In your last paragraph you say that I have agreed with mdijon. Again, that's not accurate. What I said was If that were the case, then I agree with you. I know that is his case and yours and you may well be right; however, I have the impression that it is not a universal opinion given the nature of the offence here.

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Not every Anglican in Sydney is Sydney Anglican

Posts: 6616 | From: Warrawee NSW Australia | Registered: Jun 2008  |  IP: Logged
mdijon
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I've previously linked to a rather dense discussion of cannabis drug metabolism, which made the points about testing but wasn't very accessible.

Wikipedia is pretty good on it and shows some of the complexities.

It would be possible to test for cannabis in saliva in a way that is more closely related to active components (i.e. substance B in my previous write-up). But urine testing tends to pick up substance C, and therefore doesn't lead to a very fair implementation of the law.

As GeeD says, the guy who got off the urine test charge did so on intention rather than because of the prolonged positive result, long after active components of cannabis were gone.

So that is my problem with the current application of this law.

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mdijon nojidm uoɿıqɯ ɯqıɿou
ɯqıɿou uoɿıqɯ nojidm mdijon

Posts: 12277 | From: UK | Registered: Sep 2004  |  IP: Logged
orfeo

Ship's Musical Counterpoint
# 13878

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There is a reason why a legal blood alcohol limit is set: it's based on science as to what level of alcohol will cause impairment (whether visible or not).

There are serious questions about whether any such science underlies drug testing. That is the fundamental issue with it, whether the science has actually been done to establish that what the test picks up reflects a driving impairment.

That's the problem here GeeD, you don't appear to be acknowledging that having some alcohol in your system while driving is actually legal, on the grounds that it's possible to have some alcohol in your system without being impaired.

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Technology has brought us all closer together. Turns out a lot of the people you meet as a result are complete idiots.

Posts: 18031 | From: Under | Registered: Jul 2008  |  IP: Logged
orfeo

Ship's Musical Counterpoint
# 13878

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Meanwhile, to return to the question of drug testing welfare recipients (on which I have somewhat mixed feelings): the latest article I've seen here in Australia was about a bunch of medical professionals saying they believe the planned approach will increase crime.

The reasoning being that they don't believe quarantining people's welfare payments will stop them from using drugs if they have a drug problem. It will just deprive them of their usual source of money for buying drugs. And so they will find the money other ways, primarily crime.

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Technology has brought us all closer together. Turns out a lot of the people you meet as a result are complete idiots.

Posts: 18031 | From: Under | Registered: Jul 2008  |  IP: Logged
Gee D
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# 13815

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Quite clearly many can have some alcohol in their system and drive legally - that's why the offence is having more than the prescribed content. It's only those on L and P plates that can have none. Indeed, I've said as much.

Totally agree with you about testing welfare recipients - it's a totally regressive approach by the Govt.

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Not every Anglican in Sydney is Sydney Anglican

Posts: 6616 | From: Warrawee NSW Australia | Registered: Jun 2008  |  IP: Logged
Alan Cresswell

Mad Scientist 先生
# 31

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quote:
Originally posted by orfeo:
There is a reason why a legal blood alcohol limit is set: it's based on science as to what level of alcohol will cause impairment (whether visible or not).

There are serious questions about whether any such science underlies drug testing. That is the fundamental issue with it, whether the science has actually been done to establish that what the test picks up reflects a driving impairment.

That's the problem here GeeD, you don't appear to be acknowledging that having some alcohol in your system while driving is actually legal, on the grounds that it's possible to have some alcohol in your system without being impaired.

I always assumed that any amount of alcohol impairs ability to drive (and, do other things), with degree of impairment following a no-threshold model (not necessarily a linear one) similar to what I'm used to in radiation exposure. The legal limit is then set according to a judgement of the point at which that impairment results in a significant risk to the driver and others. What's lacking is the basis for setting that limit, which is why it varies with jurisdiction - in most of Europe between 0 and 50mg/100ml (only the UK, excluding Scotland, and Malta have the high limit of 80mg/100ml). Wikipedia list of limits by nation.

There would be ethical issues in obtaining the data needed to assess corresponding limits for other drugs. You would need people to take illegal drugs and undergo testing of driving ability at different levels of active concentrations in blood.

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Don't Brexit if you haven't a scooby how to fix it.

Posts: 31965 | From: East Kilbride (Scotland) or 福島 | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Gee D
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# 13815

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I'd have thought you could devise a test that did not involve actual driving. The ethical problems would include having people ingest illegal drugs at all, and in particular that some are addictive.

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Not every Anglican in Sydney is Sydney Anglican

Posts: 6616 | From: Warrawee NSW Australia | Registered: Jun 2008  |  IP: Logged
Alan Cresswell

Mad Scientist 先生
# 31

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It was the issues of having people take drugs that I was referring to. Clearly the tests of driving ability could be done on a simulator - or by other tests of attention, coordination and other factors relevant to safe driving.

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Don't Brexit if you haven't a scooby how to fix it.

Posts: 31965 | From: East Kilbride (Scotland) or 福島 | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
mdijon
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Such tests have been done with cannabis as well as alcohol. (See references above for cannabis).

There isn't a solid basis for a cut-off level of alcohol, any at all seems to have an effect. Interestingly there are also effects on judgement that may be important at low levels of alcohol.

I read one study where the first thing noticed was that the average driving speed in the simulated test went up. This happened before any discernible loss of coordination.

Having a minimum level may also be useful in reducing false positive tests (which tend to be low-level) aside from any view about how much alcohol is damaging to concentration.

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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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# 13815

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Learner and P-plate drivers are not permitted any alcohol in their blood.

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Not every Anglican in Sydney is Sydney Anglican

Posts: 6616 | From: Warrawee NSW Australia | Registered: Jun 2008  |  IP: Logged
Alan Cresswell

Mad Scientist 先生
# 31

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quote:
Originally posted by Gee D:
Learner and P-plate drivers are not permitted any alcohol in their blood.

Which will be a local regulation (to start in the UK, for example, P-plates have no legal basis). As I pointed out earlier, there are quite a few countries where the blood-alcohol limit is zero, for all drivers. Many others where the limit for commercial drivers is zero, or significantly lower than for non-commercial drivers. A few countries even have relatively high blood alcohol limits, as high as 80mg/100ml in a few cases, without any categorisation between different drivers.

As noted, there is no safe level of alcohol in blood, even a very small amount will impair driving ability. The legal limits are a balance between different factors - mainly the increased risks with increasing blood-alcohol levels compared to other risk factors (there will be a point where the increase in accidents due to alcohol will disappear into the noise from accidents with other causes), the cost and enforceability of testing (all tests will have a minimum detection limit, close to which you will get an increasing number of false positives), social acceptability etc

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Don't Brexit if you haven't a scooby how to fix it.

Posts: 31965 | From: East Kilbride (Scotland) or 福島 | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
lilBuddha
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# 14333

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quote:
Originally posted by orfeo:
There is a reason why a legal blood alcohol limit is set: it's based on science as to what level of alcohol will cause impairment (whether visible or not).

The levels are set with a combination of acceptable risk¹ and public tolerance.² Impairment begins much lower than many countries legislate. In reality, the level should be 0.0mg/ml or 0.0%.

¹Based on the average person with no other factors considered
²What percentage of mangling and death will the public tolerate for their drinky drink.
Public tolerance is a factor in most motoring laws.

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So goodnight moon, I want the sun
If it's not here soon, I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

- A. N. Parsley, D. Mcvinni

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