Tuesday 22 October 2019

Cannabis most common drug tested positive in Irish roadside check-points

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Gabija Gataveckaite

Cannabis is by far the most common drug found in motorists who test positive in roadside drug tests.

Two out of three drivers who tested positive on roadside drug tests between April 2017 and July 2019, also tested positive for cannabis, according to the Road Safety Authority (RSA).

Cocaine was the second most common drug found in drug drivers, with 37pc of samples testing positive for the Class A drug.

While alcohol is still the most common finding in blood and urine tests, cannabis is closely behind it, according to the Medical Bureau of Road Safety (MBRS).

“The results presented today show that a continued enforcement and education effort is required to tackle this killer behaviour,” said Minister Shane Ross.

Roadside drug tests were introduced two years ago, which allow gardaí to test for recreational drugs.

“Driving under the influence of drugs has been a statutory offence since 1961 but it wasn’t until 2017, with the introduction of Preliminary Drug Testing, that we had a drug testing device capable of testing for the presence of drugs in drivers at the roadside and in the Garda station.

“It’s clear that its introduction has resulted in an increase in drug driving detections,” he added.

The figures also show that analysis of 310 motorists killed on Irish roads between 2013 and 2016, 7pc had consumed cannabis and 8pc had consumed cocaine.

11pc were found positive for at least one benzodiazepine, which are known as 'downers' or depressants.

According to Professor Denis A Cusack, director of MBRS, drug driving is a “major problem” in Ireland.

“While alcohol remains the most frequently detected drug in blood and urine specimens submitted to us by the Gardaí, our figures show that cannabis is the next most frequently found drug,” he said.

“Prescribable and over the counter drugs are also a real problem and mirror taking of drugs and medications in Ireland. However, this must be seen in context – the presence alone of these drugs in your system is not necessarily a problem, it is when it causes impairment in driving,” he added.

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