Northern n.s.w. has a drug problem

Over 20% if drug driving charges in NSW area laid against Northern NSW Drivers.

Data gained from the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research has revealed an alarming trend. The Northern NSW area consisting of the following council areas are among the worst offenders for Drug Driving in the state;

  • Richmond Valley (at least 1.131% of the population have been charged with drug driving)

  • Lismore (at least 2.702% of the population have been charged with drug driving)

  • Ballina (At least 0.411% of the population have been charged with drug driving)

  • Byron (At least 0.408% of the population have been charged with drug driving)

  • Tweed (At least 0.404% of the population have been charged with drug driving)

The population of these areas, at the time the data was gained, was 220,717. The total number of drug driving charges (where convictions were successful) was 1,695 giving the Northern NSW area an offender rate of around 0.768% (slightly less than 1 in every 100 people). If I sat down and crunched the numbers, it would be alarming how many drivers this meant were using drugs other than alcohol whilst operating a motor vehicle. Keep in mind, population statistics count everyone. From a baby to a 100 year old grandparent. Not just working age people.

In that year, NSW Police prosecuted 8,253 drug driving offences in NSW.

Drug Driving statistics are indicative of a pro-drug culture in Northern NSW. Sadly, this can carry over to workplaces and includes Transport, Manufacturing, Emergency Services, Trades and Construction.

Can I work if I have used drugs?

If you work in a sector with an oversight body (i.e. Security Guards have SLED, Health Workers have AHPRA, Police have LECC) then the answer is a definite no.

If your work requires a licence, which requires fitness of mind and body (i.e. plant licence issued by SafeWork, Truck Licence Issued by TMR, Trade licence issued by Fair Trading) than the answer is also going to be no.

However, there are grey areas. It is not specifically illegal, for the most part, to be 'under the influence of a drug at work'. For instance an administration worker would not likely be breaking any law coming to work under the influence of drugs, they may however be violating a company/organisational policy and can be punished under that policy. You can generally only be tested at work by your employer or an agent acting on their behalf (someone like me) if they have a drug and alcohol policy you have read and accepted. There will be exceptions to this rule but generally it is the best way to look at it.

Who can administer a drug test?

Anyone can, however if the test is subject to a professional review (i.e. professional standards investigation or court proceedings) it will more than likely be concluded the test was faulted unless three criteria were met;

  1. The testing officer was appropriately trained and experienced.

  2. The testing officer met the definition of a 'collector' under Australian Standards.

  3. The test was conducted in accordance with Australian Standards and Chain of Custody was maintained.