Mum’s grief, anger
Son’s life could have been saved from drugged driver
A woman whose son was killed by a driver on methamphetamine is disappointed a bill allowing roadside drug-driving tests has been thrown out. The bill would have introduced random roadside saliva drug tests, but was voted out after its first reading in Parliament last week, with 56 votes for and 63 against. Lee-ann Forster of Christchurch said random drug testing could prevent crashes like the one that killed her son. ‘‘I’m all for drug testing, even if it saves one life it would be worth it,’’ Forster said. Forster’s son Dylan Sutton, 24, was in the front passenger seat of a four-wheel-drive that flipped into a vineyard near Blenheim in March 2017. The driver, Stewart Holdem of Blenheim, had smoked meth and cannabis in the hour before the crash. He was found guilty of manslaughter and two counts of dangerous driving causing injury, and sentenced to five years and six months’ imprisonment in July. Forster is struggling to come to terms with her son’s death. ‘‘It’s hard to describe, really. You think each day the pain will lessen but it’s still there.’’ National MP Alastair Scott said he drafted the Land Transport (Random Oral Fluid Testing) Amendment Bill as a deterrent because ‘‘at the moment, people can smoke weed, drive high, and not get caught.’’ ‘‘We know about the effects that marijuana can have on drivers, we’ve all seen the ads on TV. That wouldn’t be a problem if no-one was doing it, or very few people. ‘‘But we know the number of drivers involved in crashes with drugs in their system has escalated in the last wee while.’’ AA figures show last year drug-drivers were involved in 79 fatal crashes, topping the 70 drink-drivers. The current drug testing process was time-consuming and expensive, Scott said. Roadside saliva tests were already used in the UK and Australia. Police Minister Stuart Nash said he voted against Scott’s bill because it was ‘‘overly simplistic’’. ‘‘For example, the bill didn’t include any safeguards to deal with the potential for false positives.’’ Nash and the Associate Minister of Transport, Julie Anne Genter, are developing a more comprehensive drug-driver testing regime, and will take a proposal to Cabinet this year.
‘‘I’m all for drug testing, even if it saves one life it would be worth it.’’ Lee-ann Forster
Stewart Holdem, far left, was on meth before the crash that killed Dylan Sutton in Marlborough last year.