Wednesday January 21, 2015
In an effort to combat drug impaired drivers, roadside drug testing will be introduced in England and Wales this year. But there’s more, drivers may be given a breathalyser test to detect alcohol levels instead of instant drug tests or both. Revolutionary new “drugalysers” have been approved to take saliva samples and analyse drivers on the spot for drugs such as cannabis and cocaine. However, legal highs aren’t detectable as of yet.
Previously, to detect drug impaired drivers, police officers had to rely on field drug impairment tests similar to those before breathalysers were introduced such as making the driver stand on one leg and checking pupils for dilation.
Drivers who weren’t successful, were taken to the station to undergo medically supervised blood tests. Many individuals however, resisted giving blood samples based on religious beliefs or medical reasons; wasting time and allowing the drugs to exit the system. With the drug analysers available on the streets, there’s no excuse to not providing a saliva sample when asked.
Official numbers indicate that the number of people killed in road accidents whilst under the influence of drugs rose from 3% in 1998 to a staggering 18% in 1998. Furthermore, in a separate report, Durham police found that almost half of the 23 people killed on (roads in the area) in 2014 showed traces of cannabis, ecstasy, cocaine and prescription drugs, which all contribute to impaired driving.
A new drug offence is scheduled for release in March 2015, and these new drug kits will support it as soon as it comes into effect. The initiative to implement drugalysers came after the “No drink, No doubt” campaign that asks drivers to refrain from taking the wheel if they’ve consumed even a drop of alcohol. Policing Minister Mike Penning adds that motorists felt the same about drug impaired driving as they did with alcohol-impaired drivers. Penning also stated that those who get behind the wheel under the influence of drugs and alcohol not only put their own lives at stake, but also those of their passengers and other motorists on the road.
What is a Drugalyser and the Penalties for Drug Impaired Driving?
Similar to a breathalyser, a drugalyser is the machine that will be used for on the spot oral swab tests to catch drug-influenced drivers. It tests for chemical compounds in saliva and can detect up to 16 different drugs. Officials claim that penalties for drug impaired driving will be harsh, and may range from up to £5,000 in fines, prison time of 6 months or more and a license being revoked for at least a year. These offences will also affect future insurance for your car such as classic car insurance and fully comprehensive insurance and will ultimately help keep our roads safer.