Adjourned debate on second reading
(Continued from 18 May 2017)
The Hon. J.A. DARLEY ( 16:43 :05 ): The bill concerns drug driving. It seeks to increase the penalties that apply to drug driving, introduces a new offence if the person is drink or drug driving whilst they have a child in the car, changes the roadside procedure for drug-driving analysis and makes consequential changes regarding authorised SAPOL officers.
It greatly alarms me that the incidence of drug driving is increasing and I commend the government for taking action on this. The effects of prescribed drugs on drivers are well known and, notwithstanding the danger a drug-affected driver poses to themselves, of greater concern is the danger they pose to other road users. People who take drugs and get behind the wheel are taking a stupid, reckless risk, which can lead to serious injury or even death.
The bill increases the penalties for drug drivers. Whilst monetary amounts and demerit point penalties will remain the same, first-time offenders will now face a three-month licence disqualification if they choose to expiate the penalty. Courts must impose a licence disqualification period of at least six months, as well as financial penalties and a loss of demerit points. Repeat drug offenders and those who refuse to undertake drug testing will also face increased disqualification periods.
A person who is found to be drink or drug driving with a child in the car will not face any increased penalties; however, they will be required to undergo a drug or alcohol dependency assessment before their disqualification period will end. Information on these offenders may also be provided to the Department for Child Protection if there are concerns about child safety.
Finally, the roadside drug testing process will change. Rather than having a second test conducted at the roadside, samples will be sent off for forensic testing if an initial roadside test returns indicating the presence of drugs. The penalties for drug driving will be increased, and in order for these drivers to have their licence returned to them, the current provisions are that they are required to undergo a drug dependency assessment, yet there is no support for those people who assist them to become drug free.
I am supportive of the government's measures, but believe that repeat drug-driving offenders should undertake an intervention and rehabilitation program to assist them to become drug free. I have filed amendments to this effect and will speak more to this during committee.
The Hon. K.L. VINCENT ( 16:45 :50 ): There appears to be a bit of confusion. I simply have some questions about the bill that I am happy to raise at the committee stage, so I do not intend to give a second reading presentation as such at this point.
Debate adjourned on motion of Hon. J.S.L. Dawkins.