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Screening for drugs in oral fluid: Illicit drug use and drug driving in a sample of metropolitan versus regional Queensland motorists.

Davey, J, Freeman, J, Lavelle, A, Palk, G (Peer reviewed)

Drink/Drug Driving

ACRS conference 2008

Police services in a number of Australian states and overseas jurisdictions have begun to implement or consider random road-side drug testing of drivers. This paper outlines research conducted to provide an estimate of the extent of drug driving in a sample of Queensland drivers in a metropolitan and regional area e.g. Brisbane and Townsville. Oral fluid samples were collected from 2381 motorists who volunteered to participate in the study after proceeding from a Random Breath Testing site (Brisbane = 1587 & Townsville = 794). Illicit substances were screened using the Cozart RapiScan oral fluid drug test device and included cannabis (delta 9 tetrahydrocannibinol [THC]), amphetamines, ecstasy, and cocaine. Drivers also completed a self-report questionnaire regarding their drug driving behaviour. Overall, 3.8% of the sample (n = 92) screened positive for at least one illicit substance, although multiple drugs were identified in a sample of 19 participants. The most common drugs detected in oral fluid were ecstasy (n = 51), cannabis (n = 40), followed by amphetamines (n = 20). A key finding was that cannabis was confirmed as the most common self-reported drug combined with driving and that individuals who tested positive to any drug through oral fluid analysis were also more likely to report the highest frequency of drug driving. Furthermore, a comparison between the two areas revealed drug driving detections rates were comparatively similar. This research provides evidence that drug driving is relatively prevalent on Queensland roads and may in fact be more common than drink driving.