Tenders will issue early next year for a new roadside device to test motorists for illegal drugs and medicines that can impair driving, Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar has said. The devices will test a driver’s saliva and if the sample taken is positive for the presence of either the driver will be brought to a Garda Station where a blood sample will be taken for analysis.
Drug driving has been relatively under-detected to date, in part because it is more challenging to test for than alcohol. This is because multiple substances are being tested for and because the quantities consumed, and available for detection, are smaller. Mr Varadkar said a number of roadside devices were now available which the Medical Bureau of Road Safety — which tests samples from drivers for intoxicants — believes will withstand legal scrutiny.
The Minister said he plans to legislate for roadside drug testing next year in a new law which would also strengthen the legal provisions relating to driving in an impaired state after taking drugs. Drug driving is currently an offence but the legislation does not specify an allowable level nor does it distinguish between legal and illegal substances. It simply states there must be a proven impairment due to a drug.