27 September 2023

Drug testing milestone hits high honour

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The Queensland Police Service (QPS) has marked the 15th anniversary of the introduction of Roadside Drug Testing (RDT) into the State.

Program Officer with the Road Policing Group’s Specialist Programs, Acting Sergeant Lorenzo Ricato said that before this the only way of identifying drug drivers was through blood samples taken at a hospital from drivers either involved in crashes or exhibiting signs of being adversely affected by drugs rather than alcohol.

“The new technology was a game changer, enabling police officers to detect the presence of cannabis, methylamphetamine or ecstasy with a quick swab of a driver’s tongue by the side of the road,” A/Sergeant Ricato said.

“The equipment, methodology and training have continued to improve over the years.”

He said the QPS had gone from roadside tests that took eight minutes down to five minutes, then three minutes and now only two minutes to get a positive or negative result.

“In December 2007, we had 12 officers trained to use the equipment, and now there are 1,100 officers across the State, ranging from Highway Patrol officers to General Duties police,” A/Sergeant Ricato said.

“Police conduct up to 50,000 RDTs per year, with about one in four tests returning a positive result.”

RDTs are conducted using the Securetec Drug Wipe II Twin, which can detect the presence of one or more of the three relevant drugs with a simple tongue swab.

If the reading is positive, the driver is taken for further testing at the roadside or at a police station using the Draeger Drug Test 5000.

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