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Sunday 17 December 2017

New roadside drug testing kits 'may not work in cold weather'

The Road Safety Authority confirmed that it was not aware of the temperature limitations of the device. Stock picture
The Road Safety Authority confirmed that it was not aware of the temperature limitations of the device. Stock picture

Ed Carty

Gardai have been warned that their new roadside drug testing kits may not work when it is cold.

The Medical Bureau of Road Safety advised the traffic corps on "proper operating conditions for the analysers" and confirmed that the device is not guaranteed to work when below 5C.

Using saliva samples, the machines are designed to detect drivers high on illicit drugs such as cannabis, cocaine and heroin.

"At temperatures lower than 5C the analyser is capable of operating as it has the capacity to provide heat internally," the bureau said.

"Where the analyser cannot achieve 5C, a 'low temperature message' will be displayed and it will not be possible to do a test."

Eighty-six of the Dräger DrugTest 5000 devices, considered the best on the market, are being kept in Garda stations. Another 50 are being used for roadside tests.

The Road Safety Authority confirmed that it was not aware of the temperature limitations of the device.

The DrugTest 5000 is widely used by police forces, including in Australia, Spain, Italy, England and Wales, and in Norway, where officers claim that in practice it can be used briefly outside in freezing temperatures if they stand beside a patrol car with the boot or doors open while analysing a sample.

But Independent TD Clare Daly said: "Who would decide to purchase equipment which cannot be relied upon for accuracy in temperatures below 5C?"

Irish Independent

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