Alcohol & Drugs - The Facts

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Driving While Impaired

Driving a car while under the influence of drugs impact on driver performance.

Breathalyzer Test

Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC)

Blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is a measurement of the amount of alcohol in your body.

Stats & Laws

Increasingly drug use and alcohol are associated with road crashes and driving fatalities.

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Drug Driving Affects

Some people think they are 'good' drivers and try to counteract any impairments to their driving ability.

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Support Services

If you think you have a problem with drugs or know someone that you think may have a problem, then please consider the following services.

Please contact 000 in case of Police or Ambulance Emergencies

DIRECT LINE

24 hour confidential alcohol & drug counselling & referral

Phone: 1800 888 236 

LIFELINE

24 hour support

Phone: 13 11 14

www.lifeline.org.au


KIDS HELP LINE

24 hour counselling for 5-25 year olds

Phone: 1800 55 1800 

www.kidshelp.com.au 


YSASLINE

Youth Substance Abuse Services 24 hour information & referral

Phone: 1800 014 446 


Poisons Information Centre

Phone: 13 11 26


Family Drug Help

Melbourne Based organisation for people concerned about a relative or friend using drugs

Phone: (03) 9573 1780 or 1300 660 068

 

Driving While Impaired

Driving a car while under the influence of drugs impact on driver performance.  Police in Victoria are able to arrest drivers they suspect of driving while impaired by a drug. The driver first takes the impairment test and then provides a blood or urine sample, which is tested for the presence of various drugs.

They include; depressants (such as cannabis, methadone and heroin), Stimulants (such as speed, cocaine and esctasy) and Hallucinogens (such as LSD). Some prescription drugs can also affect driving. For example, tranquillising drugs such as rohypnol and oxazepam can make users drowsy.


Drivers in Victoria can be tested for impairment using the Standarised Field Sobriety Test, in which drivers are required to perform certain tasks.

Task One - The police asks the driver to look at an object such as a pen or a finger held about 30 centimetres in front of the driver's eyes above eye-level.  Drivers are then asked to track the object with their eyes as it is moved slowly to the side. The test is designed to evaluate the degree to which the driver is suffering from nystagmus - the involuntary jerking of the eye that occurs when the eye look to the side.

Task Two - The second task is the 'walk and turn'. The driver must take nine heel-to-toe steps in a straight line, turn around and repeat the steps in the opposite direction. 

Task Three -  The third task is the 'one leg stand'. Drivers are asked to stand with their arms at their sides and to hold one leg at least 15 centimetres above the ground for 30 seconds, counting out the numbers of second.

 

Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC)

Blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is a measurement of the percentage amount of alcohol in your body.  A meaurement of 0.05 BAC means 0.05 grams (50 milligrams) of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood. In Victoria it is an offence driving with a BAC level of 0.05% or above. The legal limit for probationary and professional drivers is zero BAC. This includes driving on private property.

 

Stats & Laws

Increasingly drug use and alcohol are associated with road crashes and driving fatalities. The Victorian Police data for 2017 indicates that 35% of drivers killed, had alcohol or other drugs in their system. 13% of drivers killed had a BAC of 0.5 or above and 16% had other drugs in their system. 8% of drivers killed had both alcohol and other drugs in their system.

 

Drug Driving 

Some people think that they are 'good' drivers and try to counteract any impairments to their driving ability. Such an approach will lead drivers to have an altered view and experience of reality. Thus, being unaware of how much their driving skills are affected. Drugs can impair the ability to think clearly, consequently resulting in greater risk taking and compromised safety on the roads. 

ALCOHOL 

The relative probability of crashing at BAC level 0.05% is two times greater than at 0.00%.  At 0.15%, the relative crash risk is 25 times more than if you had not been drinking. Alcohol can reduce your ability to think clearly, making it difficult to perform a multiple of tasks in order to drive safely. It also may result in; blurred vision, reduced hearing and slower reaction times - particularly in unexpected situations. It makes you feel more confident resulting in increased risk taking. Having a greater level of relaxation coupled with reduced concentration can lead to falling asleep behind the wheel. 


CANNABIS (Marijuana, Hashish, Pot, Grass, Dope, Weed, Joint)
Cannabis interferes with a person's motor and coordination skills, vision and perceptions of time and space. THC (the active component in cannabis) impairs mental function and reduces attention and concentration on the driving task. This results in an increase crash risk by slowing down reactions and reflexes,  even when there are no signs of impairment. It can cause paranoia, drowsiness and a sense of disorientation. The potential consequences of cannabis includes; an increased risk of lung, mouth, throat and tongue cancer, hallucinations, paranoid thinking; memory and impairment, mood swings, weight gain and other mental health problems.

METHAMPHETAMINES ( Speed, Uppers, Ice, Meth, Crystal)
The dangers of using methamphetamines causes an over confidence in driving skills resulting in taking unecessary risks. Speed increases risk taking aggression, and are often used by drivers to temporarily allow them to continue to drive even when fatigued. Once the amphetamines have worn off, the driver can suddenly fall asleep. The potential consequences of speed include; severe depression, violent behaviours, paronia, hallucinations, anxiety, high blood pressure, panic attacks and a very high risk of addiction.

COCAINE (Crack, Coke, Happy Dust, Flake)
The potential consequences of cocaine include; respiratory problems, convulsions, cardiac arrest, hallucinations, violent or erratic behaviour and ulceration of the mucus membrane of the nose.

HALLUCINOGENS ( LSD, Trips, Magic Mushrooms, Angel Dust)
The potential consequences of hallucinogens include; depression, paranoia, anxiety, violent behaviour, impaired judgement and coordination and self inflicted injury.

INHALANTS (Laughing Gas, Poppers, Rush)
The potential consequences inhalants include; sudden death, suffocation, brain damage, heart trouble, severe depression, noise bleeds and reckless behaviour.

DEPRESSANTS (Benjos, Temazzies, Valuim, Tranks, Rohypnol, Serapax)
The potential consequences of depressants include; suicide, depression, insomnia, anxiety and addiction.

OPIOIDS (Heroin, Codeine, MS Codeine, Morphine)
The potential consequences include; death, HIV and hepatitis infections through sharing of needles, addiction, mood swings, depression and anxiety.