New drug driving tests will check for presence of cannabis in system

New drug driving laws will be discussed in Cabinet today
New drug driving laws will be discussed in Cabinet today

Minister for Transport, Paschal Donohoe acknowledges that cannabis can stay in system for up to a week and drivers found with traces of it in blood will be charged with an offence regardless of when it was consumed.

Speaking on Morning Ireland, the Minister for Transport wants to create new legislation with stronger penalties in relation to cocaine, heroin or cannabis.

Donohoe acknowledged that cannabis can remain in a person's system for over a week or longer but if drivers are caught with the drug in their system they will be charged with an offence, regardless of when they took they drug.

Currently, motorists who use drugs can be prosecuted only if their driving is impaired but the new laws would see drivers tested for the presence of heroin, cocaine or cannabis in their blood.

A saliva test would be administered on the side of the road and if it returned positive indications then the a follow up blood test would take place.

The Bill, which is being brought before Cabinet today, will set out different unacceptable levels for different types of narcotics.

A different test will be applied to those taking prescription drugs. 

A motorist found impaired could face a €5,000 fine or six months in jail. 

The Minster said that new legislation was needed to combat the issue of driving and drug use.

“In relation to prescription drugs, an impairment test will then be carried out. On the basis of that impairment test, that will form the basis of the gardai concluding whether you’re intoxicated or not due to drugs.

“The message is the same as it is in relation to alcohol, that if you consume drugs that you will run the risk of causing serious accident or injury to other road users.

“What we are now doing is bringing into line our body of law in road law in relation to alcohol to make that completely consistent now with drug testing.”