From the 13th of April, An Garda Síochána have been able to test motorists for drugs at the roadside.
Using a device called the Drager DrugTest 5000, Gardaí can check for a range of different drugs. This builds on previous efforts to tackle drug driving such as roadside impairment testing in 2014.
Drivers may have a few questions about the new testing method. Here, we answer 7 of them.
1. Which drugs will gardaí be testing for?
The new equipment will be used to detect Cocaine, Opiates (like morphine and heroin), benzodiazepines (Valium-like drugs) and Cannabis in drivers.
2. How will drivers be tested?
Testing is straightforward and non-invasive. Drivers will simply need to give an oral sample using a cassette-lie swab. This will then be tested at the roadside using the Drager DrugTest 5000 device.
3. How long does a test take?
The Drager DrugTest 5000 can give a result in just 8 minutes.
4. What happens if I fail the test?
If you fail a roadside test you can be taken to a Garda station where a blood or urine sample will be taken and sent to the Medical bureau of Road Safety for further analysis. If this additional testing confirms the findings of the roadside test then the driver faces up a driving disqualification of one year for their first offence, or of two years for a second offence.
5. Can I refuse to give a sample?
No. Unless, you fancy paying €5,000 and/or getting a six month prison sentence.
6. I’m taking prescribed medication. Should I be worried?
If you are legitimately taking prescription medicines, and it doesn’t impair your driving, then you do not need to be alarmed. Drivers with medical conditions should continue to take their prescribed medication in accordance with the advice of their doctor or pharmacist and not exceeding the prescribed dose.
7. What about other medications like anti-histamines?
Again, you shouldn’t be alarmed. Gardaí will have to prove impairment and that you were unfit to drive as a result of the medication. If you are unsure about driving while taking any medication or if your dosage has changed, ask your doctor or pharmacist for advice.
For more info an An Garda Síochána’s new roadside drug testing, click here.