Police forces are a step closer to having equipment to test motorists suspected of drug driving, James Brokenshire, crime prevention minister, announced last week.
Road Safety GB has welcomed the news that The Home Office has produced the specification for a new police station-based drug screening device. The document sets out what the device will do and the standards it must meet. Manufacturers will now submit devices to the Home Office for testing.
Once a screening device is approved, officers will be able to use it to test if a person has specific levels of a drug in their system and then take a blood sample if the device gives a positive reading. The Home Office says this will enable suspects to be dealt with more quickly.
Currently, a medical examiner must be called out to assess whether suspects are impaired because of drugs, and then authorise a blood sample.
James Brokenshire said: “Motorists under the influence of drugs are a danger on the road. We are determined that police have the highest quality devices to help identify them. This specification is a big step towards that goal.
“Police already have robust powers to test drivers for signs of impairment and this device will make it easier for them to identify the reckless drivers who are putting lives at risk.”
Mike Penning, road safety minister, added: “Drug drivers show a flagrant disregard for the law and put the lives of responsible motorists at risk.
“This announcement means that we are a step closer to making sure that the police have the equipment they need to tackle this selfish minority more effectively and make the roads safer for everyone.”
Alan Kennedy, chair of Road Safety GB, said: "Road Safety GB welcomes this important step towards deterring and detecting drug drivers.
"Driving while under the influence of drugs is every bit as dangerous as driving while over the alcohol limit. The sooner this equipment is in use, the better."
Evidence to support a prosecution for drug driving can only come from a blood specimen. A positive test on an approved drug screener means a blood specimen can be taken straight away without a medical practitioner’s involvement.
The government will also continue working with manufacturers to investigate the feasibility of introducing portable drug screening devices which could be used to test drivers for drugs at the roadside.
Click here to read the full Home Office report.