AA welcomes historic passing of drugged driver testing

9 March 2022

AA welcomes historic passing of drugged driver testing

The AA wants to see roadside drug testing start happening as soon as possible following Parliament’s historic passing of the legislation allowing it yesterday.

The Government passed the bill that will give Police new powers to test for drivers for a range of drugs, including using saliva-based testing devices as they do in Australia and many other countries.

Since 2017 close to 100 road deaths each year have involved a driver found to have drugs in their system.

The process for selecting the testing devices that Police will use and training of officers still has to take place, meaning roadside testing is aiming to begin early next year.

“This decision has been a long time coming and the AA congratulates the Government for a significant step forward in road safety,” says AA road safety spokesperson Dylan Thomsen.

“The AA has been calling for this since 2011 and the introduction of roadside testing devices will not only be welcomed by the vast majority of drivers but also many of the families that have lost loved ones because of a drug impaired driver.

“Alcohol and drugs remain huge problems on our roads and we haven’t been doing enough in either area to win the battle against impaired driving.

“The key things now are to get police officers equipped and trained to be able to start doing roadside testing as quickly as possible and also to make sure there is adequate investment and resources for it to be effective.

“The number of alcohol tests of drivers has halved in recent years and we need to get this back up to its previous levels plus having drug testing in addition to that.

“The key aim is to deter people from taking the risk of driving after taking drugs or drinking, and that means we need significant numbers of tests taking place. Knowing that they will be able to be tested and caught is going to send a much stronger message to not drive if you are impaired by drugs.”

The testing process to be introduced in New Zealand will be one of the most advanced in the world, requiring an initial positive result to be confirmed by additional testing to make sure that someone definitely has drugs in their system.

Thresholds for the level of drugs in a driver’s system are also being introduced, so that drivers detected at lower levels will face a short driving ban, fine and demerit points while those at higher levels face a criminal charge.

“Drugged driving is a much more complex area than drunk driving because of the range of substances involved and more variation in the way drugs can affect individuals but the Government has come up with a well-balanced approach which, when implemented, will make our roads safer.”


For more information contact:

Dylan Thomsen
Road Safety Spokesperson
New Zealand Automobile Association
M. 027 703 9935
E. dthomsen@aa.co.nz


The New Zealand Automobile Association is an incorporated society with more than 1.8 million Members. It represents the interests of road users who collectively pay more than $2 billion in taxes each year through fuels excise, road user charges and GST.

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