Roadside drug testing to become a reality

Plans are underway to make driving under the influence of any illegal substance an offence.

The Government will change the law so that any motorists who drive with an illegal drug in their bloodstream can be prosecuted.

Police officers will be issued with roadside drug testing equipment to allow them to screen drivers for substances including cannabis, ecstasy and cocaine. If the driver proved positive, they would then be taken to a police station where a doctor would take a blood sample as evidence.

Roadside drug testing is already in place in other countries, including Italy, Croatia, Romania and part of Australia.

The new measures follow increasing worries about the problem of drug driving. A 2001 Government study found that of 1,184 fatal road traffic accidents, 22.9 per cent of drivers were found to have “impairing drugs” in their bloodstream. This figure was three times higher than the result of a similar study conducted in the 1980s.

Discussions are already underway between the Home Office and a number of companies over the equipment’s design and specification, with plans to make roadside tests a reality in two to five years.

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