Friday 22 March 2019

Revealed: This is how many people have failed roadside drug tests since April

Drug driving
Drug driving

Cormac McQuinn and Sorcha O'Connor

ROADSIDE drug-testing detected only 11 suspects in the first three-and-a-half-months it has been in operation.

All but one of the positive tests took place in Dublin.

The new procedures for preliminary drug tests were introduced on April 12 and involve gardai conducting tests to analyse a driver's saliva when they are stopped at a checkpoint.

There were three positive tests in April, one in May and five up to June 23, according to provisional figures provided to the Department of Justice by garda authorities

Two more detections have been made since then, Assistant Commissioner Michael Finn told the Herald.


All but one of the positive tests were carried out in the Dublin Metropolitan Region, with the other one detected in Wexford, at Mandatory Intoxicant Testing checkpoints.

The number of detections should rise as training in drugs tests is rolled out across An Garda Siochana, Mr Finn said.

New roadside tests allow Gardai to determine if someone is driving under the influence of drugs
New roadside tests allow Gardai to determine if someone is driving under the influence of drugs

The cluster of positive tests in Dublin is likely due to the concentration of gardai in the capital with training on the procedures involved, he indicated.

Officers in the region were the first to receive such training, which has been undertaken by around 1,000 garda members nationwide to date.

Read More: Driving bans now recognised on both sides of the border

The gardai have been testing motorists for drugs with the assistance of the Medical Bureau of Road Safety since 1999, and last year more than 720 motorists tested positive for drugs other than alcohol.

The force began its new roadside tests in April with devices that can detect drugs such as cannabis, cocaine and heroin and can give gardai a preliminary scientific indication that a motorist has been drug-driving.

Mr Finn also gave an update on the garda summer enforcement campaign aimed at saving lives on Ireland's roads.

It is a "high-risk time on the roads" as people are on holiday, are more relaxed and off-guard, he said. Mr Finn raised particular concern about cyclists, with 10 killed so far this year - twice the number killed by the end of July last year.

He also pointed to one day last week when 394 motorists were caught speeding. The highest speed detected was 139kph in an 80kph zone near Aughrim, Co Wicklow.

"People are still speeding. People are still drink or drug-driving, using a mobile phone while driving and not wearing safety belts. An Garda Siochana will continue to target these offences," he said.


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