Tessa Mapstone

Every cop car is a potential drug test

POLICE have warned Northern Rivers cannabis users that every police car is a potential drug testing unit.

But cannabis users say they are outsmarting mobile drug swab tests by swigging vinegar, gargling mouthwash, drinking chocolate milk and chewing on vitamin C.

Thousands of people are using Facebook groups to avoid roadside drug tests.

With one in four Northern Rivers motorists testing positive for cannabis between April and December 2015 - an average of 141 positive tests every month - literally thousands of residents have taken to social media to prevent detection.

The North Coast RDT Locations Facebook group has grown in membership to 2780 within six months.

Members of the open group can share locations of roadside drug test set-ups.

However, every police car is a potential drug test, warned a NSW Transport spokesperson.

"The NSW Police force is increasingly conducting MDT from highway patrol vehicles," the spokesperson said. "You don't need to see a roadside drug bus to be tested.

"MDT could be conducted by the next police car that stops you."

Terry Placing, creator of the Facebook group, said the tip-off group was not simply about avoiding detection.

"This Facebook group is a form of community activism," he said.

"These drug tests target cannabis users and encourage use of harder drugs which leave the body sooner," he said.

A NSW Transport spokesperson said: "The NSW Government takes a zero tolerance approach to drug driving to keep everyone safe on our roads which is why we've invested millions into the Mobile Drug Testing technology.

"MDT is about stopping people driving after they use drugs and protecting the lives of innocent road users."

Recently NSW Greens MP David Shoebridge called to replace the drug tests with an evidence-based scheme that reliably tested for impairment.

"The swabs test for cannabis, amphetamine and ecstasy, but do not identify opiates or pharmaceutical medications such as painkillers and anti-depressants, which are known to impair driving skills," he said.

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