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Motorists face drug testing within months

  1. catseye
    Drug testing machines will be in police stations within months, ministers will announce today.

    The Home Office is ready to approve devices which will be used to screen motorists suspected of driving under the influence of illegal narcotics.

    In a new move manufacturers will be sent details of the Government's requirements for the machines today.

    The use of so-called "drugalysers" in police stations will also pave the way for roadside testing by the end of next year.

    It is understood that the first devices, capable of testing for an array of drugs including amphetamines, cannabis and ecstasy, could be in police stations by the summer.

    Britain lags behind a number of countries in testing motorists for drug use, including Australia, Croatia and Spain where drivers are screened at the roadside.

    The introduction of drug testing was one of the key recommendations by Sir Peter North in his Government-commissioned report into road safety which was published last year.

    Currently a motorist suspected of driving under the influence of drugs undergoes a Field Impairment Test, which entails performing a variety of tasks such as standing on one leg.

    A driver who fails is taken to the police station where officers have to wait for a doctor to approve a blood test, which produces results which can be used in court.

    But ministers believe that this can lead to substantial delays, especially in rural areas, enabling drivers to escape conviction because the drugs have cleared their bloodstream.

    The introduction of drug screening devices, which are likely to entail taking a saliva sample, will streamline the process.

    Any driver who fails will be subject to an immediate blood test which can be carried out by a custody nurse, who will be present at most police stations.

    This will make it far easier to secure a conviction, because the blood test will be taken closer to the time when the driver was behind the wheel.

    Drug drivers show a flagrant disregard for the law and put the lives of responsible motorists at risk," said Mike Penning, the road safety minister.

    "This announcement means that we are a step closer to making sure that the Police have the equipment they need to tackle this selfish minority more effectively and make the roads safer for everyone.”

    James Brokenshire, the crime prevention minister, added that the introduction of the devices would make it easier to identify reckless drives who put lives at risk.

    Even with streamlined testing, the prosecution still has to prove that the presence of the drug impaired the motorist's driving.

    This means the law on drug driving is currently in the same position as that governing alcohol before the introduction of the breathalyser in 1967.

    However Sir Peter North has called for the creation of a new offence which would make it illegal to drive with the presence of an illegal drug in the bloodstream.

    Last night the AA welcomed the Government announcement. "We are delighted by this," a spokesman said.
    "It will make it far easier to arrest and convict somebody driving under the influence of drugs."

    Commenting on proposals, Robert Gifford, Executive Director of the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety, added: “Drug driving remains one of the great known unknowns. The more we can understand the scale and nature of the problem, the easier it will be to identify the most appropriate solution.”

    By David Millward, The Telegraph Transport Editor
    7:00AM GMT 14 Jan 2011


  1. cra$h
    as if the courts aren't crammed enough with non-violent prisoners....

    Well, RC companies are gonna love this one
  2. catseye
    ...and here are the specifications for the screening device as issued by the Home Office (pretty vague), plus the North Report (2010 Report on the Review of Drink and Drug Driving Law) in case anyone is curious ;)
  3. Opi8ed
    Again and again money is wasted trying to secure money and convictions against people using substances generally far less dangerous than alcohol.
  4. mickey_bee
    Swim uses the most 'hardcore' of all drugs!!! Heroin!!!!

    Yet, as an addict, an average dose does nothing more than make him feel normal - he get's a bigger buzz off his first roll-up cigarette of the day than he does off his first hit.

    Alcohol's highly toxic and addictive - compare someone very high on heroin (asleep) and someone pretty drunk, (shouting, doing stupid stuff, being aggressive and generally dangerous). Yet heroin's the taboo drug, and alcohol, the single most costly drug to the taxpayer, is sold *everywhere*!
    And it causes far more deaths on the roads, violence in the street, and general disordely shite, than any other *illegal* drug.........where's the common sense!!!????
  5. Terrapinzflyer
    really- I'm kind of surprised at the replies in this thread.

    Unless I'm missing something here this only relates to those who have been pulled over for suspected driving under the influence and have failed a field sobriety test. The test is then used to provide evidence the individual was under the influence - without which a DUI conviction is hard, if not impossible, to obtain.

    I see nothing here that this is singling out drug users nor punishing them for drug use in general- but is being used to facilitate punishing irresponsible drug use - behavior that may well endanger lives of innocents.

    If this was roadside testing being used randomly/without cause I would have issues. But it appears to me it is being used only for those who have shown enough impairment to get pulled over & fail a field sobriety test.
  6. dadrone
    SWIM thinks overall, this will be a good thing in the long run. One of the unwavering complaints from LE on the topic of marijuana legalization is that they can't prove impairment while driving. Swim thinks these devices, albeit intrusive, are a stepping stone to the legalization of marijuana.
  7. corvardus
    I'm not.

    However... what is good for the goose would be good for the gander. To put my concerns into English this is all contingent on what ministers are going to do in the next few years.


    Effectively states that the Police are seeking to be able to perform random breath testing. This machine is highly likely to be part of that regime. If ministers permit such actions then we have another comment to consider.

    Driving would become like Russian Roulette which would be irrelevant of your skill at driving or whether you were drug driving or even inebriated.

    Worst case scenario would be random drink/drug testing allied with presence of an illegal drug in the system, if one was to assume zero tolerance, means that any cannabis user would be at risk of prosecution up to 30 days after last consumption.

    As the law currently stands you are correct the police would be unable to act. If that changes then:

    We'd have a problem.
  8. Terrapinzflyer
    ^^ you make some fair points. But their are many things that present a "slippery slope". Currently drugged driving- particularly prescription drugs- is a very real concern that puts innocent lives at risk.

    Personally- I see technology that could be abused as a reason to become more involved- not a reason to ban that technology. It is indeed a double edged sword. But in my opinion methods to deal with those that cause serious problems from their drug use could ultimately help the cause of reform. Personally- I want impaired drivers- regardless of the substance, off the roads. And I, as I think every citizen should, will fight the legal issue of "random" use of this. I think there are two distinct issues here- essentially "users" behaving irresponsibly and gov'ts/law enforcement behaving irresponsibly - neither of which I can condone.

    And perhaps I find it hypocritical to oppose a method to "prove" someone was driving impaired because I support their drug of choice while condemning those driving under the influence of alcohol.
  9. Placebo effect
    To be fair it ws only a matter of time before they came up with something to detect drugs. I suppose it's fair enough, at the end of the day lets face it, it's riskier driving on drugs than sober. A friend of a friend does it all the time and is aware its pretty reckless (although he isnt a doesnt break speed limits), alas he still does it, but has a limit within himself where he knows if he is to wrecked to drive safely. If he knows there is a journey he needs to make especially with passengers, he tones everyrthing down about an hour before.
    Like i said not a suprise action is being taken.
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