Ireland are increasing their use of road-side saliva testing technology in a bid to boost enforcement of drug driving.
Following a trial to determine the accuracy of roadside testing equipment the blood test will now be replaced by a second saliva test. Both of the samples taken will still need to be verified at a laboratory, but the measure will save time and garda resources. The new procedure is being rolled out this Easter.
In Europe according to the French road safety observatory believe that around a quarter of road deaths involve a driver that tests positive for drugs.
Saliva tests for drug driving are now part of a new package of road safety legal changes passed by the Irish parliament in December 2016. Gardi previously relied on impairment tests such as pupil dilation and balance checks, but from this year saliva tests will be used.
A recent UK survey carried out for a law firm found that one in seven young drivers admitted driving after consuming drugs. The introduction of roadside testing in the UK in March 2015 led to a dramatic increase in offenders caught for drug driving offences.
Testing motorists for drug-driving will begin on the Easter bank holiday weekend, Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald has confirmed in the Dáil.
The Minister told Fianna Fáil TD Jack Chambers that key stakeholders are being given a few months to prepare for the introduction of what will be called preliminary drug testing on motorists.
The legislation makes it illegal for motorists to drive while under the influence of cannabis, cocaine or heroin. It is also now an offence to drive while under the influence of the cannabis-containing drug Salvidex, used in the treatment of multiple sclerosis.
An Garda Síochána had also announced a 10 per cent increase in traffic corps gardaí this year. The road traffic legislation was being reviewed to ensure that “all drivers caught while drink driving will in future receive a mandatory disqualification”, she added.
The driver of the rigid vehicle had traces of heroin in his system when both drivers lost their lives in January 2016.