29/11/2011

Motorists To Face Roadside Drugs Tests

Car drivers across the Irish Republic are soon to be subjected to roadside drug testing in order to clamp down on drug driving.

The Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport Leo Varadkar has confirmed plans for the initiative where Gardaí will be able to ask drivers to perform tests at the roadside in order to determine if they are driving under the influence of drugs.

New legislation is currently being drafted and Minister Varadkar hopes to introduce the measure in the New Year.

Any driver who fails the roadside impairment test, or who appears to be under the influence of drugs, will be arrested and brought to a Gardaí Station.

Speaking about the new legislation, Minister Varadkar said: "These new laws will allow us to fast-track measures against drug driving. It’s already against the law to drive under the influence of drugs, but Gardaí will soon be able to conduct roadside drug tests.

"This will make it easier to detect and prosecute drug driving."

Gardaí will be able to test motorists for their co-ordination abilities by asking them to perform a series of physical exercises or gestures.

Training of police officers in the new procedures has been underway for some time by the Medical Bureau of Road Safety (MBRS) and UCD, in preparation for the introduction.

The new tests will be facilitated by a section of the Road Traffic No. 3 Bill, which is currently being drafted.

This legislation will also allow the introduction of 'R' (restricted) plates under a graduated licence system, and pave the way for a plastic card driving licence.

Research is also underway within Ireland, and internationally, to develop an apparatus, which can detect the presence of drug intoxicants other than alcohol in the body, in the same way that a breath test can measure alcohol, levels.

The Medical Bureau of Road Safety is closely involved in these initiatives.

(BMcC/GK)

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