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Drug-driving test legitimacy challenged -

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Drug-driving test legitimacy challenged

Reporter: Mick Bunworth

MAXINE McKEW: And while we're on the subject of road safety, Victorian motorists who drive while
affected by drugs can no longer presume to do so undetected.

A world-first pilot program has been launched to randomly test drivers for illicit drugs, such as
amphetamines and marijuana.

The test involves saliva swabs, in much the same way that breath testing is used to catch

But the random tests have been beset by controversy before a single driver has even been charged.

A father of two is questioning the legitimacy of the tests and threatening defamation action
against media outlets who reported him as the first to be caught by the new regime.

Police were today answering questions, not just about the new tests, but the way in which they
sought to publicise their introduction.

Mick Bunworth reports.

MICK BUNWORTH: It's Monday morning and the media watches on as Victoria Police unveils its latest

But this random roadside drug test, a world first, is a prototype that may need to go back to the
drawing board.

JOHN DE JONG: I'm not guilty.

I know that for a fact.

Well, I'm not guilty, it's as simple as that.

My response to it is there is problems in this testing.

I think it's been proven already.

MICK BUNWORTH: John de Jong was only the fourth motorist to be tested and it occurred under the
glare of television cameras.

The saliva swab that indicated he was driving with illicit drugs in his system has left more than a
sour taste in his mouth.

He says he'd had just two anti-inflammatory tablets the night before and hadn't used marijuana for
a month.

JOHN DE JONG: People should not be out there driving under the influence of drugs.

I've been driving a vehicle for 22 years.

I've seen terrible things on the road and they should not be out there driving.

MICK BUNWORTH: John de Jong claims the test is inaccurate and he's also upset by his exposure in
the media.

JOHN DE JONG: I didn't think my family would know because I didn't expect it to be on the news.

I did expect it to be on the news that night, but certainly not my face shown by the news.

I was told by police that that would not happen.

ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER BOB HASTINGS, VICTORIA POLICE: We asked the media not to film anyone because
no charges had been laid and, ultimately, to play their part in this process with getting footage
or whatever for their stories.

JOHN DE JONG: When I did get home, my youngest daughter - I went to speak to her straight away and
she just burst into tears.

Um - (chokes) - excuse me for a minute, um, my wife was also very upset.

My older daughter got home later that night from work and she didn't even get in the door without
being in tears.

It took about 10 minutes before I could speak to her.

KATALIN BLOND, LAWYER: Certainly the police don't want to take any steps in relation to any of
these people until the final testing comes through.

Maybe it would have been wise for the media to do the same thing.

MICK BUNWORTH: John de Jong provided two saliva swabs to police.

He was told both were positive.

He was then given a third swab.

KATALIN BLOND: When the third test was taken in the van, he was given one of the saliva samples and
told that he could have that tested, but beyond that he was given no advice by the police as to how
that test ought to be appropriately stored so that it wasn't compromised in any way and,
furthermore, he wasn't given any details of where he ought to go to get that independent test

MICK BUNWORTH: The technology is still very new and drivers are going to find it hard to contest an
allegation of having drugs in their blood.

ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER BOB HASTINGS: Look, I'm not sure to be quite honest.

I'd only be speculating if I gave you some answer to that.

We believe there are labs about that can provide that facility.

I mean, how many there are I'm not sure.

But the process, from a legislative point of view, was followed and we did what was required under
the legislation.

Now our sample goes off to be tested.

The individual can have theirs tested but it's up to them to source that testing site.

MICK BUNWORTH: But it's not just verifying the results of saliva swabs that's a problem.

Some say the test itself can't be trusted.

and it would appear that it may not be good enough just yet.

I can understand why the police want to do it but there's doubts over the technology.

MICK BUNWORTH: Norman Marshall is chairman of a company that provides drug testing in Australian

He says there are only two definitive drug-testing methods and saliva swabs are not one of them.

NORMAN MARSHALL: At the moment, it would be a blood test or a urine test.

There's no protocols as to how the saliva is to be taken, how it's to be analysed, what are the
analytical procedures that are to be in place to be certain that someone who claims to be an
analyst looks at it, tests it on what sort of machine and says it's positive when it clearly could
be a different result from a different analyst.

All of that research has not been done accurately or long enough yet.

MICK BUNWORTH: But police say teething problems with the technology are minor when compared with
the sobering statistic that almost a third of road fatalities in Victoria exhibit some trace of
elicit drugs.

ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER BOB HASTINGS: Sometimes you've a cocktail of illicit drugs and alcohol and,
as far as we were concerned, and Government, this was a menace that had to be dealt with.

And it was a growing menace.

So this was a road safety initiative aimed at reducing road trauma.

JOHN DE JONG: I need to try and clear this up.

I need to get some sort of answer.

I need to clear it up to clear my own name because this should not be happening to me, it should

Or anybody else.

MAXINE McKEW: Mick Bunworth reporting there.