Stoned motorists face bans as gardai take delivery of drug driving kits
Gardai will soon be taking delivery of 150 drug testing machines which will allow them to test motorists for drug driving at the roadside.
The roadside test will involve gardaí taking a swab of saliva from a driver's cheek which will be analysed for a variety of substances.
New laws mean that those caught behind the wheel while on drugs will be prosecuted in a similar way to drunk drivers, with fines of up to €5,000 and the possibility of a six-month jail sentences.
Last year the Government introduced the Roadside Impairment Test which gave gardaí the power to ask motorists to stand on one leg or touch their nose with their finger to show their co-ordination was not diminished.
A model poses with a pupil measurement chart which is part of the Roadside Impairment Test
However, the new test machines purchased by the Medical Bureau of Road Safety will make the process far more sophisticated.
In November last year new laws came into effect which allowed Gardai to take blood samples from motorists who may be injured in road accidents.
Previously there was a loophole in the law which allowed drivers to feign injury in a bid to avoid being tested for their blood/alcohol ratio.
However, under the new directives, blood samples may now be taken by medical staff – after which a certificate of the results will be issued.
Anyone refusing to comply can be disqualified from driving or receive hefty penalty points.
In addition, Gardai who suspect drivers of being under the influence of narcotics can test drivers at the side of the road to ascertain if they are or not.
The Road Safety Authority revealed last year that ten per cent of drivers killed in traffic collisions over an 11-year period – from 1998 to 2009 – were under the influence of illegal drugs