Sunday 19 November 2017

Motorist, already banned for 10 years, tests positive for cocaine 'just three hours' after Gardai begin tests

A pedestrian is seriously injured after being struck by a car. Stock picture
A pedestrian is seriously injured after being struck by a car. Stock picture

Kathy Armstrong

A MOTORIST tested positive for cocaine shortly after the new drug-driving roadside tests were first carried out by Gardai.

Gardai said that the person who returned the positive result last night was already serving a 10-year driving ban.

An image put out on Garda Twitter showing the positive result
An image put out on Garda Twitter showing the positive result

They were stopped driving along the N4 in West Dublin and will now face court for the drug driving offence, and also for driving while banned.

The new provisions in The Road Traffic Bill were passed last December and it means Gardai now have equipment to carry out saliva tests on drivers to check if they've consumed cannabis, cocaine or heroine (benzodiazepines, and opiate).

Anyone who tests positive face penalties including jail.

Gardai today shared a picture on Twitter of Operation Surround underway in Stillorgan, Dublin on Saturday evening - understood to be the first drug driving tests carried out.

Before the new legislation was introduced Gardai couldn't prosecute anyone who they suspected was under the influence of drugs while driving.

Later today, gardai shared another Tweet indicating that a driver had tested positive for cocaine, with the time stamps indicating that the positive result was returned three hours after testing first stated.

Transport Minister Shane Ross welcomed the legislation and said he expects it will save lives.

He said: "It is estimated that drug driving is a factor in approximately one in 10 fatal crashes.

"The introduction of preliminary drug testing now strengthens the ability of gardaí to tackle the problem."

Frances Fitzgerald also explained earlier this year why roadside drug testing would be introduced this weekend.

Speaking in the Dail, she said: "It is intended that the provisions will be commenced at the Easter Bank Holiday weekend.

"This will allow time for all stakeholders to prepare for introduction, and will provide a valuable opportunity to highlight the dangers of drug driving over the Bank Holiday weekend."

The Medical Safety Bureau of Road Safety said that the new legislation shouldn't put people off taking their prescribed medicines, so long as it doesn't impair their ability to drive.

Professor Denis Cusack, Director of the MBRS, said: "It is against the law to drive under the influence of drugs, including prescribed drugs, where your driving is impaired to such an extent that you don't have proper control of the vehicle," he said at the launch of the preliminary drug-testing scheme.

"Drivers with medical conditions should continue to take their prescribed medications in accordance with healthcare advice and medical fitness-to-drive guidelines."

Read More: Motorists can now be tested for driving under the influence of drugs

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