Traffic Cops Start Testing Drivers for Suspected Drugs

The İstanbul Police Department’s Traffic Control Bureau has announced that its traffic police will begin carrying out drug testing on drivers in addition to alcohol testing as part of a new program that was recently launched by the Security General Directorate in line with an amendment made to the Highway Traffic Law in May.

The special device used by the traffic police to test drivers for suspected drug use is said to be similar to that employed to check for alcohol consumption. The mobile drug test unit analyses a sample of drivers’ saliva and detects the presence of illegal drugs such as cannabis, cocaine, opiates, amphetamines, methamphetamines, ecstasy and methadone. The saliva sample reacts with a chemical substance and chemicals within the device to provide a result in three to eight minutes.

The implementation of the law began on Wednesday, when traffic police will start testing drivers for suspected drug use. If a driver is determined to have been driving with drugs in their system, they will be taken to the nearest police station and charged with illegal drug use.

Traffic Control Bureau Deputy Director Ali Özsoylar gave a briefing on the use of the drug testing device at a seminar for employees on Tuesday. Experts from Germany, where the device is manufactured, were also present to provide more information about the new drug testing devices.

Speaking at the seminar, Özsoylar said: “We currently have only three drug testing devices in İstanbul. This device is able to detect the presence of drugs in a person in nine minutes. The cost of each test is approximately 20 euros.”

“The device is able to detect 19 different type of drugs, Drivers who test positive for illegal drug use will have to pay a fine of TL 3,600 and will have their driving privileges revoked for five years. The saliva sample taken from the driver will be stored as forensic evidence for two years,” he said.

Currently the UK has no plans to introduce mandatory roadside drug testing, but it seems as though it is just a matter of time before this technology reaches UK shores.

While the handheld test is useful in identifying drug misuse suspects the technology is unreliable. A spokesperson for AlphaBiolabs, the UK’s number one drug testing laboratory said “We would welcome the introduction of roadside drug testing, it may cut road accidents and deaths, but before we introduce such policy into the UK the test must be 100% accurate and the technology is just not there yet”.

“If something like this test we introduced tomorrow on UK roads then we will see a massive increase in people disputing the results of positive drug tests. “The only way to be sure that someone has been using illicit drugs is to have the tests taken by an accredited drug testing laboratory such as ourselves”. We can use hair segmentation to determine what and when illegal drugs have been taken”.