Can RMS suspend a driver for a single non-negative drug test?

30 September 2014 Topics: Transport and logistics

The short answer is yes.

BHT v Roads and Maritime Services [2014] NSWCATAD 85

A recent NSW Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) decision to suspend the licence of a bus driver after she returned a non-negative oral fluid test for amphetamines and methamphetamines has been upheld.

The driver was initially the subject of a random drug test administered by her employer. After returning the non-negative result she declined to undergo a further blood or urine test and resigned her position. RMS was then advised of the non-negative test result. The driver admitted to have taken an ecstasy tablet or tablets on one occasion only.

RMS indicated that the driver’s accreditation under the Passenger Transport Act 1990 (NSW) would not be reinstated until she:

  1. undertook a treatment program;
  2. had been in remission for at least three months;
  3. provided a medical report that showed she had no cognitive impairments or ‘end-organ’ issues that could affect her driving; and
  4. provided a form from a doctor stating she met the medical standards expected of a driver.

The driver appealed to the New South Wales Civil and Administrative Tribunal arguing that she was not a habitual user nor did she have a substance abuse problem and therefore the requirements imposed were inappropriate.

The Tribunal upheld the suspension imposed by RMS. It found that once the driver had returned a non-negative result for an illicit drug RMS needed to be satisfied ‘that the driver does not present a risk to safety of passengers as a result of having a ’substance misuse disorder’. The driver had not produced any evidence that would satisfy that negative proposition.

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