The Home Office has given their official approval for police to use a new device to test for drug driving at the roadside.
‘DrugWipe’ is the first portable device to be used for drug testing at the roadside and it can detect up to six drug groups. Home Office scientists have only approved its use for the police’s detection of Cocaine and Cannabis so far. However, they are the two most common substances abused by offenders, with estimates of 200 people a year being killed by drug drivers.
The new device is used to take a saliva sample from the driver, providing its results within minutes. This could lead to an increase in the number of tests and convictions, as it will not always be necessary for a driver to be taken to a police station if they are suspected of being under the influence while driving.
Police Minister Mike Penning announced the devices approval at a road policing conference, where he said: “Those who get behind the wheel while under the influence of drugs not only put their own lives at risk, but also those of innocent pedestrians, motorists and their passengers.
He added: “That is why I’m delighted to announce that I have type approved the first mobile drug testing device for use by the police. This device is a big step towards bringing more drug driving criminals to justice.”
The full name of the device is the Securetec DrugWipe 3S and it gives either a positive or negative reading within 3-8 minutes from when the sample has been taken. Only if the result of the test is positive does the driver then need to be taken to a police station. In the case of a positive result scenario the introduction of the device also means an evidential blood test can be taken without the need for doctor’s authorisation.
The new technology introduces a more modern approach to roadside drug testing, where previously methods included coordination exercises such as standing on one leg to determine whether a driver needed to be taken for further tests at a police station.
There are more drug-driving related developments on the way with changes in legislation to be enforced in March, making the possible penalties for such an offence 6 months in prison, 12 Month’s disqualification from driving and a fine of up to £5,000.
The new law sets limits for 8 illegal drugs: heroin, cannabis, cocaine, ketamine, lysergic acid, diethylamide, methylamphetamine, MDMA and ecstasy at ‘very low levels’.
Professor Stephen Glaister, director of road safety group the RAC Foundation, said: “Drug driving is a significant safety problem that in the past may have been attributed to alcohol. It’s very good news that the police now have at the roadside a reliable way of distinguishing between drugs and alcohol so that they can take appropriate enforcement action.”
AlphaBiolabs can test for a number of illegal drugs in both a legal capacity or a public one, to learn more about our drug testing or to order a test please visit our drug testing pages