Drugged drivers warned dope detected weeks later

TOOWOOMBA Magistrate Damian Carroll has noticed an increasing number of motorists coming before the courts for drug-driving.

Mr Carroll noted there were 13 defendants on the morning court list who had been charged with driving while having illicit drugs in their system.

"Courts are seeing a significant increase in people coming before the court for drug driving," he told a 35-year-old man who had pleaded guilty to driving with marijuana in his system.

Mr Carroll said some drivers didn't realise that when they consumed drugs, particularly marijuana, it stayed in the system longer than they might think.

Sergeant Sean Whittet of the Toowoomba road policing unit said the reason more people were coming before the courts for drug driving could be that the unit had been equipped with road-side saliva testing equipment since March.

Marijuana use could be detected in samples of blood and urine for some days and weeks, he said.

"It stays in the hair for a month," Sgt Whittet explained.

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However, saliva tests could generally detect the presence of marijuana for between six to 12 hours after use, but that depended on the amount of drug consumed and how often and heavily the particular person used the drug.

"If it's illegal you shouldn't be using it anyway," Sgt Whittet said.

"But if you have used it you should give it some time (before getting into your car)."

Saliva drug testing was not performed as often as road-side breath tests for alcohol but police officers generally knew who to target when testing for drugs, he said.



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