Saturday 1 October 2016

New drug driving tests will be able to detect codeine in prescription drugs, and heroin, cocaine and cannabis

Geraldine Gittens

Published 15/12/2015 | 11:17

The new offence will carry a €5,000 fine or six months in prison.
The new offence will carry a €5,000 fine or six months in prison.

Driving with the presence of heroin, cocaine or cannabis in your blood will become a crime if the Government approves a new road traffic bill today.

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From next summer onwards, drivers will be tested for the presence of heroin, cocaine or cannabis, or impairment due to opiates (which can be found in prescription drugs).

The new offence will carry a €5,000 fine or six months in prison.

Currently, motorists who use drugs can be prosecuted only if their driving is impaired.

Minister for Transport Paschal Donohoe said over the last ten years, 10pc of people who tragically lost their lives on Irish roads were found to have drugs in their system.

“The medical bureau of road safety over a ten-year period conducted a survey for the presence of drugs in the systems of people who lost their lives on our roads and that indicates across that ten-year period just under10pc of people who tragically lost their lives did have drugs in their system,” he told RTE’s Morning Ireland.

“Out of that 10pc of people, between 60pc and 70pc of them had cannabis in their system.”

Motorists will be required to go through the initial test, a saliva test, in the aftermath of an accident, under the new law. Positive indications will be followed up by blood test to confirm the presence of drugs.

The test will be able to detect cannabis which can remain in the human system for as long as a week after consumption.

“If it happens in the aftermath of an accident taking place, gardai do have the powers [to ask drivers to take the test].”

“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 Minister said.  

“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.”

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