Leading criminal lawyer backs reported drug testing scale back

ONE OF Wagga’s leading criminal lawyers has backed Highway Patrol’s decision to reportedly cease mobile drug testing. 

David Barron believes current roadside testing is skewed against drug users – rather than drug drivers – and acts as a “bit of a revenue raiser”. 

“In relation to detecting whether a drug is simply present or not, it tends to be less about road safety and more about money,” he said.

“Oral swab tests aren’t aimed at people who are under the influence while driving. 

“I know when a person has a past offence, police are notified instantly by number plate recognition so you have to imagine they would be targeted.”

It comes after Wagga’s leading Highway Patrol cop Wayne McLachlan told The Daily Advertiser his unit were “not presently conducting mobile tests” and had conducted just 225 tests this year. 

The figure equates to approximately two tests per day, despite NSW Police being funded to conduct close to 100,000 roadside tests every year. 

Regional Highway Patrol Superintendent Bob Ryan admitted the number was unusually low, but could not explain why. 

A Wagga general duties police officer told The Daily Advertiser the directive to scale back mobile testing – instead conducting stationary tests – was given in response to “political pressures” from civil libertarians. 

It is understood local police were so frustrated with the order, they conducted no drug testing at all over the Easter period.

Wagga MP Daryl Maguire refused to comment on the reported change, labelling it an “operational matter”. 

A Daily Advertiser poll revealed the majority of Wagga is in support of the reported new regime, with 65 per cent of recipients – 540 people – calling to outlaw mobile testing. 

Assistant Commissioner of Traffic and Highway Patrol Michael Corboy denied reports drug testing had ceased completely and said resources were plentiful. 

“NSW Police and Transport for NSW are committed to drug testing drivers and will continue to have a highly-visible presence on our roads, as a deterrent to save lives on NSW roads,” he said.

“Research shows taking drugs and driving is dangerous to yourself and other road users for reasons including loss of concentration, poor decision making, and aggressive driving.”