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New tests will catch drivers high on drugs

MOTORISTS high on cocaine or speed are avoiding prosecution, according to Transport Minister Leo Varadkar.

During the debate on the Road Traffic Bill, Mr Varadkar admitted that motorists who have taken drugs were getting away with it.

The new Bill plans to give gardai the power to give motorists American-style on-site drug tests.

Gardai are being trained to check drivers' eyes for dilated pupils and carry out other physical co-ordination tests.

The tests will also include ordering a driver to stand on one leg and also to walk in a straight line.

Mr Varadkar said he wanted to be able to deal with drivers who had taken cocaine or speed but who had not consumed alcohol.

"It is not satisfactory that is not entirely the case now," he said. "The difficulty we face with drugs is the absence of a specific limit beyond which we can be sure driving is unsafe.

"Furthermore, different tests show up different types of drugs. We want this training programme to be rolled out at the earliest opportunity because drug driving is a significant problem.

"I am advised that the vast majority of people caught for drug driving have also consumed alcohol.

"It is possible in almost all cases to prosecute them under that provision."

Gardai are currently being trained The Medical Bureau of Road Safety in special techniques for identifying drivers who are high on illegal narcotics

The new anti-drug driving crackdown will be rolled out later this year when the garda training is complete.

Under the new law, a driver who refuses to submit to the roadside test can be fined €5,000 and be jailed for six months.