It’s been a while since we’ve had to worry about anything after a few drinks other than putting the grazing platter in the fridge or stepping on Lego on our way to bed. But as COVID restrictions ease and our ’new normal’ ramps up, so have the adulting realities of life. Realities such as RBT (random breath testing) and MDT (mobile drug testing).
While RBT and MDT were recently suspended in some Australian states due to pandemic-related public health concerns, no doubt they’re back out in force as more of us take to the roads again.
Some families may also have a new driver in their midst and need to educate them on roadside breath and drug testing.
Let’s refresh our memories to make sure our much anticipated days and nights out don’t end up with a bonus excursion to the local police station.
What is RBT (Random Breath Testing) and MDT (Mobile Drug Testing)?
RBT is a breath test conducted on the side of roads, to detect the amount of alcohol in the body of a driver. After almost 40 years, the police have this down to a fine art.
MDT is another roadside test, to detect a driver’s recent use of four common illegal drugs:
- Cocaine, and
Legislation for MDT was passed in 2006 and testing has been on the increase ever since. In NSW, by the end of 2020 police will have doubled the number to 200,000 per year. Victoria isn’t far behind, now conducting around 150,000 per year.
It’s only a matter of time before you’re tested.
What Happens During an RBT or MDT?
Every police car is a mobile RBT and MDT unit, and you can be pulled over at any time – without provocation.
You’ll be asked to show your driver’s licence and submit to a breath test for alcohol and/or a saliva test for drug detection. These days, a breath test is as simple as counting to 10 as the unit is held close to your mouth. During the drug test, a mouth swab is done using an absorbent collector.
If you fail either test, you’ll be taken to the police station for a secondary test. If you fail this, you’ll be changed with driving under the influence (DUI).
Can I Refuse to Take a Breath Test?
You can refuse, however it’s considered an offence and you’ll incur a fine and possible loss of demerit points. The dollar amount and number of points vary from state to state but they’re substantial.
Also, the police are well within their rights to take you to the station for an official test that can be used in a court against you.
Why Do We Need RBT and MDT?
We all want to feel safe on the roads. We all want our families and friends, whether they’re behind the wheel or in the car with us, to be safe on the roads.
According to the NRSPP (National Road Safety Partnership Program), drink driving is still the major contributing factor in 30% of car crashes involving a fatality. And one in four riders or drivers killed on Australian roads will have a blood alcohol concentration, or BAC, exceeding the legal limit.
Sobering statistics indeed.
All Australian states and territories are serious about reducing drug and alcohol related road deaths. We need RBT and MDT to help keep people alive on the roads.
I Wasn’t Planning A Big Night, But…
You’ve had a few drinks. A few more than you planned (we’ve all been there). You feel fine but, being the awesome human being you are, you don’t want to risk driving if you’re over the limit.
And what is over the limit?
Across Australia, the drink driving limit, also called the legal limit, for Open licence holders is 0.05 BAC.
The NSW Transport site explains:
Your BAC measures the amount of alcohol you have in your system in grams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood. A BAC of 0.05 means you have 0.05 grams (50 milligrams) of alcohol in every 100 millilitres of blood.
And if you’re on a Provisional 1 or 2 licence, your p-plates, or you’re still on a Learner’s permit, your BAC is 0.00.
That’s right, a big fat zero.
Many pubs and clubs these days offer onsite testing stations. You can also buy your own personal breathalyser or drug testing kit. We wrote about personal breathalysers a few months ago.
Or you can use one of the many online alcohol standard drinks calculator sites such as the one at Drinkwise. That said, it’s often best just to play it safe after drinking and avoid driving.
Plan Ahead Instead
If you think you might have a few drinks when you’re out, here are a few things you can do to keep yourself and others safe on the road:
- Have a Plan B – don’t leave it to chance. Make sure you’ve already thought about which avenue you’ll take home if you slip up and consume more than expected. That way you’re not left stumbling and fumbling, it’s just a quick switch to your secondary plan.
- Specify a ‘deso’ before you go out – having a designated driver is smart. Some groups of friends have a roster system in place. This way, everyone does their bit to keep their mates safe by taking turns to be a drink and drug free driver.
- Install a ridesharing or taxi service app on your phone – Uber, DiDi, Ola, Shebah, 13Cabs… whatever works for you. And get familiar with it. Take a refresher on rideshare safety with this blog full of tips before you go.
At the End Of The Day…. Or Night
The pressure to ‘have a few’ with friends can be great. Especially in Australia where social drinking is such a big part of modern culture.
If your social drinking is getting out of hand, please seek professional advice. Ditto if you’ve slipped into using illegal drugs. Lifeline is available 24/7 as a great first step.
Or, like many of us, you might just sometimes have one too many drinks. If so, don’t risk getting caught by roadside random breath testing.
Presume you’re over the limit, leave your car where it is and let someone else get you home. Not only because it’s safer, but if you drive after excessive drinking (or using illegal drugs), your car insurance won’t cover any accidents.
Been a while since you looked into what your insurance policy does and doesn’t cover? Wondering whether it’s time to change car insurer? Chat to us if you’d like to know more or take a couple of minutes to get an online quote.
Over To You – Mobile Drug and Random Breath Testing
Have you ever been out and had one too many? How did your Plan B work out? When was the last time you experienced random breath testing or mobile drug testing? We’d love to know.