GARDAI will begin carrying out roadside drug testing from next summer as part of a major crackdown on dangerous driving.
The Government has approved new rules, which will also target drivers who use their mobile phones or fail to wear a seatbelt.
Learner drivers also come under scrutiny in the Road Traffic Bill. They will be put off the road if they amass six penalty points – half the limit for more experienced drivers.
Major changes to the penalty points system, revealed by the Irish Independent last October and approved by Cabinet yesterday, include:
• Learner drivers who are driving without a qualified driver will be hit with penalty points for the first time.
• Penalty points for mobile phone use, including texting, will rise from two to three.
• Points for speeding and not wearing a seatbelt will also rise from two to three.
The new bill also includes provision for drug-driving testing. This would involve motorists being tested through a series of impairment tests – such as walking in a straight line – and failure to pass can be used as evidence in court.
Gardai will also be allowed ask doctors to take a blood sample from an unconscious driver following a serious road traffic accident, which will be tested for alcohol or drugs when they give their consent. Failure to give consent will be an offence.