In December 2004 Victoria became the first place in the world to introduce random roadside saliva testing for the presence of selected illegal drugs. Since then most of the other Australian states have also introduced this type of drug testing. Most states test for THC, methamphetamine and MDMA, however some states also test for additional drugs.
How is the test conducted?
Drivers undertaking a roadside drug test are required to provide a saliva sample by placing a saliva test strip on their tongue. Drivers who test positive will then be asked to provide an oral fluid sample for analysis either in a drug bus or at a police station. A positive result to the second saliva sample will lead to further analysis in a laboratory.
How long does saliva testing take?
An initial saliva test takes around five minutes. The entire process could take around 30 minutes for drivers who are required to provide an oral fluid sample in the drug bus or at a police station.
How long after consuming these drugs are they detectable by the test?
It is difficult to predict how long after using a drug, the devices used during random roadside saliva testing, will detect a particular drug. It can depend on a range of factors including how much was used, the strength and purity of the drug, if other drugs were used, and the individual’s metabolism.
The table below offers a rough
- Up to 24 hours
- Up to 'several' hours
Contrary to popular belief inactive residual THC from smoking cannabis in previous days or weeks is not detectable in roadside tests.
What will happen if I provide a positive test?
Once the process is complete, the driver will be allowed to leave, although they will not be permitted to drive their vehicle. No charge will be laid until the results of the laboratory analysis are known. Drivers will be informed within a few weeks if the laboratory analysis confirms an illicit drug was present and they are to be fined
or prosecuted for an offence.
Penalties differ from state to state. For further information regarding penalties in your state you should consult your local state road authority.
*This fact sheet is for information only and should not be relied upon as legal advice.