A backpacker faces being jailed for drug driving despite not having a puff of marijuana for five days after smoking at a party.
Trent Moore, 37, said he had a joint last Wednesday night and was pulled over on a fishing trip with his French girlfriend Sandrine Fert, 36, on Monday.
A random saliva swab test returned a ‘low-range cannabis’ reading and he was charged with drug driving – punishable by up to three months’ jail.
Trent Moore, 37, said he had a joint last Wednesday night and was pulled over on a fishing trip with his French girlfriend Sandrine Fert, 36, on Monday
Ms Fert explained the pair usually smoked a few joints a week as they travelled around Queensland and NSW for farm work
‘There’s been so many people who have told us they’ve been in the same situation and people should be aware of it,’ Mr Moore told Daily Mail Australia.
Unlike with alcohol, drivers are charged if any illegal trace of drugs is detected in their sample even if police don’t believe them to be impaired on the road.
Marijuana can still be detected in a user’s body up to 30 days after it’s been smoked.
Mr Moore said the couple were pulled over about 8am on Monday during the five-minute trip to their favourite fishing spot in Gayndah, central Queensland.
The itinerant fruit picker was given an initial test and when that was positive he was taken to the officer’s car for a swab of his mouth, which was also positive.
Mr Moore said he would plead guilty because ‘what other choice do I have?’ but was outraged that the law punished drivers who were not impaired.
‘It’s ridiculous. They shouldn’t have a test that doesn’t properly measure THC levels and you should only be fined if it’s going to affect your driving – just like drink driving laws,’ he said.
Mr Moore said the couple were pulled over about 8am on Monday during the five-minute trip to their favourite fishing spot in Gayndah, central Queensland
‘It’s not fair because even if you smoked five days before it can have such a big affect on your life. We didn’t do anything wrong,’ Ms Fert said
‘I’d never get behind the wheel if I had smoked the same day.’
Ms Fert explained the pair usually smoked a few joints a week as they travelled around Queensland and NSW for farm work.
‘We were working 12-hour days for the past two months and sometimes you need something to relax at the end of the day,’ she said.
‘It’s not fair because even if you smoked five days before it can have such a big affect on your life. We didn’t do anything wrong.’
The couple also complained that the officer aggressively preached his Christian religion to them for an hour while he filled out the paperwork.
‘He asked if I was married and when I said no he said we should be and we should have kids because that’s what every girl wants,’ Mr Moore said.
‘This was upsetting because I actually can’t have kids due to a medical condition.’
Mr Moore said he would plead guilty because ‘what other choice do I have?’ but was outraged that the law punished drivers who were not impaired
Ms Fert also complained that the officer aggressively preached his Christian religion to them for an hour while he filled out the paperwork
At some point another policeman who had finished booking another motorist came over and asked how his colleague was going, then left after he was told everything was fine.
‘As soon as the other cop took off he was at it again about Jesus and the Gospel and how I was nothing without them,’ Mr Moore said.
‘He said we were meant to be in this situation so God could save us.’
The officer then gave the couple a paperback of the Gospel of John, still with a $1.50 price tag on it.
Steve Bolt (pictured), from Bolt Findlay Solicitors in Lismore, Queensland, said he has never seen a case where a guilty driver was in fact impaired by illegal drugs
Mr Moore will face Gayndah Magistrate’s Court on September 27.
The maximum penalty for drug driving is three months in prison, a $1,820 fine, and licence disqualification.
Daily Mail Australia contacted Queensland Police for comment.
More than 10,000 drivers tested positive for drugs at traffic stops across Queensland in 2015-16, including 4,078 for THC – the active ingredient in marijuana.
The whole concept of drug testing has been slammed by experts and legal professionals as unfair because of how long traces stay detectable.
Drivers are charged with driving with a relevant drug present in their saliva or blood even if police don’t believe them to be impaired on the road.
‘I have not seen any case in the last six or seven years where police have alleged the person was intoxicated by drugs,’ lawyer Steve Bolt told Daily Mail Australia.
‘They [police] simply say they did the test and it came back positive.’
Queensland Police said the detection period for the active ingredient in the drug varies depending on numerous factors
They include ‘the quantity and quality of the drug that has been ingested, the frequency of use of the drug and the period of time since taking the drug’.
There has been a widespread call to change the test where it shows actual impairment when an individual is tested (stock)
Mr Bolt has represented dozens of these cases and said the accused frequently consumed the illicit substance days earlier.
‘The unfairness of it is the punishment is for people who are not impaired – how does that make sense?’ he said.
‘Why should someone lose their licence if they’re not affected?’
Mr Bolt said the law should be reformed to be based on whether the driver would have actually been impaired while they were driving.
‘What we need to workout if there is an impairment, if there is an acceptable level is of drugs in the system,’ he said.
‘There’s no consistency, no correlation, regular smokers would have tolerance and it wouldn’t affect them.’
NSW Greens MP Cate Faehrmann agreed, calling the system ‘arbitrary and unreliable’ and claiming it was an extension of the war on drugs, not about road safety.
‘Drivers are being convicted despite no evidence of impairment or threat to road safety,’ she said.
DRUGS TESTED FOR AND HOW LONG THEY STAY IN YOUR SYSTEM
Cannabis – Marijuana can be detected in urine for as long as 30 days after usage if the person being tested is a frequent user. For sporadic use, marijuana can still be detected about three days after usage.
Ecstasy – Ecstasy or MDMA can be detected up to three days after first use.
Methylamphetamine (speed/ice) – Depending on the amount ingested, ice can be detected as long as five days after use.
Cocaine – Cocaine can return a positive result in urine tests up to two weeks after usage if the person being tested is a chronic user. For a less frequent user, cocaine can register in urine for two days after use.
Source: The Mayo Clinic