Roadside drug testing has now been introduced in Ireland in a bid to stop motorists driving under the influence.

The Gardai – the police force in the Republic of Ireland – will be able to stop drivers and breathalyse them for four different types of drugs. They will test for cannabis and cocaine as well as benzodiazepines like Valium, which are typically used to treat anxiety or insomnia, and opiates, which include heroin and morphine.

The Gardai will use the Dräger DrugTest 5000 to carry out the breath tests at 50 roadside ‘mandatory intoxicant’ checkpoints throughout the country. The drug testing device will also be used at 86 Garda stations.

Michael Finn, Garda Assistant Commissioner, said the move had been introduced as drug driving was becoming a serious issue in Ireland. The most common drug abused by motorists is cannabis with most culprits being young men.

Last year, the Gardai carried out 3,000 drug tests and almost one in four (24 per cent) came back positive for drugs.

The new roadside drug tests will mean that officers can charge drivers with an offence if the test comes back positive. In the past, they had to prove that a motorist’s ability was impaired to bring charges against them.

Motorists warned to steer clear of substances

Moyagh Murdock, chief executive of the Road Safety Authority (RSA), warned motorists to stay clear of alcohol, drugs and certain prescription medications when driving.

She said: “Our own research shows that many drug drivers incorrectly believe that certain drugs make them better drivers and imagine themselves at low risk of collision. They also tend to overestimate their driving ability and show little understanding of how drugs affect their driving.

“Many have poor awareness of the impairing effects of drugs and make bad decisions about driving as a result.”

If people test positive for prescription medication, they will have to show that they are taking it as a result of medical advice and that it does not have a negative impact on their driving ability.

Drug testing is a valuable way of finding out for certain whether someone is under the influence of illegal substances or prescription medication. AlphaBiolabs offers drug testing services to a number of companies and organisations as well as the general public.

We can test for a large number of substances, including those picked up by the new roadside breathalysers – cannabis, cocaine, opiates and benzodiazepines.