Motorists who take illegal or prescription drugs which impair their ability to drive safely could be punished by a new roadside test.
The Home Office-approved breath test will quickly analyse samples of drivers’ saliva to see if banned or legal highs which could affect their reactions and perception are present.
According to policing minister Mike Penning, motorists will not know if they are being breathalysed for drink driving, “drugalysed” or both. The news is part of a crackdown on drug driving over the festive period.
While illegal narcotics are recognised as being dangerous for drivers, many are unaware of the potentially devastating effect prescription drugs can have on those behind the wheel. Strong painkillers, sleeping pills and drugs to combat anxiety can all have a big effect on a driver’s ability and can lead to an increased chance of a road accident.
Plague on society
According to Mr Penning, the new kits were approved by officials before Christmas and will be used to prosecute those who ignore safety warnings on prescription drugs, as well as those who drive while under the influence of banned substances.
He said drug driving was “abhorrent” and something which has “plagued society”, adding that he hopes people will soon view drug-driving with as much contempt as drink-driving.
Mr Penning said that driving while under the influence of drugs means motorists are putting both themselves and others at risk of an accident which could result in serious injury or death. He promised to “drive this menace off the road”.
It is hoped that the fact that drivers will not know if police officers will test for alcohol or drugs, or both, will make people think twice about getting behind the wheel while under the influence.
The new system for drug-driving tests is much faster than the present method, which sees officers having to arrest suspects then take them for time-consuming blood tests.
Some people could escape the tests by citing religious beliefs or saying they were haemophiliacs.
The time it took to argue about the tests would often be enough for the substances to leave their bodies.
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