The ability by gardaí to now drug-test motorists will help in the battle to cut road deaths, Longford-Westmeath Independent Deputy, Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran, has said.
Under new legislation, gardaí will be able to conduct roadside tests if they suspect that motorists are driving under the influence of drugs. The measures are contained in the new Road Traffic Bill 2016, announced in the Dáil last week by Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross.
The technology is now available to enable An Garda Síochána to test for drugs at the roadside. Drivers who are caught with heroin, cannabis, or cocaine above the specific threshold will face a fine of up to €5,000 or a maximum of six months in prison or both.
“This gives gardaí extra powers in the battle to cut the number of road deaths on Irish roads as drug-impaired motorists will now be detected and put off the road,” said Deputy Moran. “The new Bill also allows the Medical Bureau of Road Safety to test for concentrations of the specified drugs and also to provide the devices for roadside testing to the Gardaí.”
Deputy Moran pointed out that the 2014 Annual Report of the Medical Bureau of Road Safety revealed 58 per cent of the 1,158 specimens tested for drugs were positive for at least one drug. The report also revealed that 53 per cent of the specimens that tested positive for drugs did so for two or more drugs.
“There is clearly an issue with how these drugs can impair people’s ability to drive and the Gardaí must be given the powers to deal with this road safety threat,” said Deputy Moran.
A person convicted under the new provisions will face disqualification from driving for a minimum of one year for a first offence, and a minimum of two years in the case of a second or subsequent offence.