If the test gives a positive reading officers will take the motorist to a police station for a blood test, which will be used in any prosecution. The Home Office estimates as many as 200 people a year are killed by drivers impaired by drugs.
A new drug driving offence comes into force in March which will introduce a penalty of up to six months’ imprisonment, 12 months’ disqualification and a fine up to £5,000. It sets limits at very low levels for eight illegal drugs – cannabis, cocaine, ecstasy, ketamine, heroin, lysergic acid diethylamide, methylamphetamine and MDMA. Under existing measures anyone suspected of driving under the influence of drugs has to undergo a “field impairment test” by the roadside…
Driving under the influence of cannabis is not anything like driving under the influence of any of these other drugs. And no testing for prescription medications? What, just because they’re legal? If a driver is impaired, it shouldn’t matter which substance is causing the impairment.
In 2009-10 police carried out 223,423 breathalyser tests for alcohol but just 489 field impairment tests. The advent of new equipment to allow quicker and easier drug testing at the roadside is expected to lead to a significant rise in the number of tests carried out. Results are also likely to give for the first time a more accurate picture of the extent of drug driving.
An accurate picture? Maybe of people driving under the influence of illegal drugs. But even then, testing positive for a drug doesn’t mean your driving was impaired.
What, does the U.K. want to have a prison system as huge as the one in the U.S.?