The mandatory tests are being introduced after Gardai completed training in the use of roadside testing kits. They will now use swabs to test saliva for the presence of cannabis, opiates, cocaine and benzodiazepines. Impairment does not have to be proven. Those caught driving with drugs in their system will face a mandatory minimum disqualification of four years for a first offence and six years for a second or subsequent offence.
Minister for Justice, Frances Fitzgerald, has confirmed testing has begun.
“This will provide a valuable opportunity to highlight the dangers of drug driving over the bank holiday. I look forward to the introduction of the preliminary drug tests and am confident that these new road traffic enforcement measures will impact positively on road safety", Justice Minister, Frances Fitzgerald, told the Irish Examiner.
Meanwhile, a new report from the Road Safety Authority has found that 31 per cent of people killed in road accidents had alcohol in their system at the time.
The analysis also found that:
A third (33%) of drivers / motorcycle riders who died in fatal crashes in 2014 had a positive toxicology for alcohol, 35% of car drivers killed had a positive toxicology, 2 out of 5 (40%) of motorcyclists killed had a positive toxicology for alcohol and 28% of pedestrians killed had a positive toxicology for alcohol. 96% of the drivers / motorcycle riders who had a positive toxicology were male
The median age for male drivers / motorcycle riders with a positive Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) was 38 years of age. The median Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) for deceased car drivers was 192mg and the median for deceased motorcycle riders was 104mg (the legal limit for non-specified drivers is 50mg).