A man arrested for drug driving nine days after he smoked cannabis has been acquitted in a NSW court, the ABC report.
Joseph Ross Carrall was pulled over for a roadside drug test in May of last year and advised by police to wait at least a week after smoking cannabis before driving. He took that advice the following month and waited nine days after consuming drugs before getting behind the wheel, but when Carrall was pulled over by police a second time, THC was detected in his saliva sample and he was arrested.
Lismore magistrate David Heilpern yesterday found Carrall not guilty because he had made an “honest and reasonable mistake of fact”. But the court case has cast further scrutiny on NSW’s current roadside drug testing program, which tests only for the trace presence of drugs – not impairment – and means that drivers who consumed drugs days earlier can be stripped of their license.
The arresting officer in Mr Carrall’s case said the laws meant that you can now either be “a smoker and not drive, or a driver and not smoke,” while Magistrate Heilpern admitted the current drug testing legislation is “mysterious and uncertain by design”.
“Certainly it was not the aim of [law makers] that if you consume cannabis [at all] you cannot drive [ever],” Mr Heilpern said. Only four of the 3043 drug drug driving matters heard in NSW courts over a seven month period last year resulted findings of not guilty.
Greens MP David Shoebridge told the ABC that he would be pushing for a parliamentary committee into the laws. “This case is significant because…up until now people have been thinking 48 hours or a week is safe to drive,” he said. “They’ve been operating on that basis, thinking they are complying with the law but yet finding they can just randomly lose their licences at one of these roadside drug tests.”
“This is giving ordinary people who are trying to comply with the law a chance to fight back and keep their licence.”