As new drug driving legislation comes into force, roadside drug testing will be carried out by police across the UK to detect cannabis and cocaine use.
Under the latest legislation, which comes into effect on Tuesday March 2, people caught driving under the influence of drugs could face stricter penalties including 12 months driving disqualification, a £5,000 fine and up to six months imprisonment.
The fully automated Dräger DrugTest 5000 will be utilised in a similar way drivers are breathalysed for alcohol, and means officers will no longer have to wait for results at the police station.
The device, from international safety manufacturer Dräger, was subject to rigorous testing at the Home Office’s centre for applied science and technology before being given the green light.
Mark Burrup, Dräger Regional Segment Manager, said: “As new legislation comes into place early this year, the DrugTest 5000 will have an important role to play in reducing the number of drug-drivers on the road and the impact they have on the safety of others.
This is a major step forward and will support the police in their crackdown to bring drug drive criminals to justice.
Dräger has a history of expertise in alcohol and drug screening after becoming the first company in the UK to receive type approval on a breathalyser nearly 50 years ago.
Lives at risk
Policing Minister Mike Penning is determined to force drug driving off the roads.
He said: “Those who get behind the wheel while under the influence of drugs not only put their own lives at risk, but also those of innocent motorists and their passengers.
“I’m delighted to have type approved the DT5000 for use by the police, which will allow them to more quickly test drivers for cocaine or cannabis – two of the most prevalent types of drugs detected among drug drivers.”
Image: The Dräger DrugTest 5000
The device has the data management capability of storing up to 400 individual measurements at any given time.
As a result, the data will assist officers in targeting areas for enforcement.
The new laws also state it is now illegal to drive with particular levels of some drugs in your body.
The legislation covers a list of 16 drugs – eight of which are illegal narcotics and the other eight being prescription drugs.
Although officers can use their new equipment to test for cocaine and cannabis, they will still have to go back to police stations to test for other substances.
Nottinghamshire Police are prepared for the introduction of the amended drug driving laws.
A spokesperson said: “In relation to prescribed drugs on the list – it is a defence to the new offence to show that you were taking your medication strictly in accordance with your doctor’s advice – so people should be reassured on that point.
“If a prescribed drug affects your ability to drive, your doctor will clearly tell you so at the time and the legal limits on prescribed medication have been set at a level that allows for all prescription usage.”
Nottinghamshire Police say the new legislation will make it easier to charge people with drug driving offences and expect to see the number of people convicted increase.
For more information on the law, visit www.gov.uk/drug-driving-law.