THC can be detected in saliva, which is commonly known as an oral fluid test, for up to 72 hours after usage, although it can be traceable for a shorter period for those who smoke less often.
The lick test is a new roadside drug test designed to catch out drug drivers. The test involves a police officer holding a test pad through the car window, which the driver then licks to detect the presence of THC (cannabis), methylamphetamine (speed), and MDMA (ecstasy). If the preliminary test is positive, the driver will be asked to perform a second lick test, using a different screening device. If the second test is also positive, a sample will be sent to the police lab for final confirmation. If the lab confirms the presence of drugs, the driver will be issued with a Court Attendance Notice and may face penalties such as a fine of $1,100 for first offenders and loss of their license for six months.
Unlike drink driving, there is zero tolerance for drug driving. The mere presence of a drug in the driver’s system can result in a penalty, even if their driving seems unaffected. The offense of DUI, on the other hand, requires noticeable impairment of driving ability or involvement in a fatal crash.
It is important to note that drugs can stay in the system for longer than alcohol, particularly cannabis. Even if a driver smoked cannabis a week before the roadside test, they can still be detected and convicted of drug driving, which carries a criminal record.
The introduction of random drug driving tests in New South Wales, Australia, has sparked debate over its effectiveness and fairness. Critics argue that the tests, which detect minuscule amounts of drugs, may produce false positives and unjustly prosecute drivers who are not actually impaired. The charge of driving with illicit drugs present in blood does not measure the level of impairment, unlike the charge of driving under the influence of a drug. The tests do not measure the amount of drugs in a driver’s system, making the offense a strict liability. Moreover, no two people metabolize drugs in the same way, which could lead to thousands of people losing their license and paying significant fines for up to 12 months when there is no evidence they were a danger to other road users. The drug driving tests do not test for cocaine and morphine, leaving cannabis users punished while cocaine users remain unscathed.