Roadside drug tests rolled out in Norfolk as new laws introduced

Just Regional
Mar 4, 2015 3 mins read

Police in Norfolk will be using new roadside kits to test drivers thought to be under the influence of drugs.

It comes as new laws were introduced this week making it easier for police to target drug drivers with the first arrest made using the new powers last night in Ipswich.

The new drug testing devices will allow officers to carry out roadside tests on drivers suspected of being under the influence of cannabis or cocaine and work by testing a saliva swab.

New legislation introduced on Monday 2 March makes it illegal to drive with certain drugs above a certain level in the blood, even if you’re not unfit to drive.

A 19-year-old man, from Ipswich, was stopped in West End Road last night (3 March) shortly before 10.25pm and provided a positive reading for cannabis. He was taken to Martlesham Police Investigation Centre for questioning and released on bail until 17 April.

Chief Inspector Chris Spinks, head of the Norfolk and Suffolk Roads Policing Unit, said the new laws would make it easier for officers to tackle drug drivers because there is a prescribed legal limit for substances.

“Having legal limits specified for substances means the process of dealing with offenders and securing prosecutions is less complex than before,” he said.

“The new laws combined with the use of the roadside drug tests will allow officers to deal with offenders more effectively.

“It is a minority of people who believe that they are fit to drive whilst under the influence of drugs, but they are putting themselves and others at risk.

“In the same respect as alcohol, any amount of drug, prescribed or otherwise can impair your ability to drive and increase your chances of causing a collision.

“It is therefore essential that drivers read the instructions of any prescription medication before getting behind the wheel.”

Previously, the offence of driving whilst unfit through drugs would be used to prosecute drivers and the new laws are in addition to this existing offence.

Limits will be set at very low levels for eight illegal drugs such as cannabis and cocaine.

Some prescribed drugs are also included as certain medicines affect your ability to drive. Eight medicines which are sometimes abused are also included in the new legislation with limits set high to reflect their use as medicines.

The medicines are morphine, diazepam, clonazepam, flunitrazepam, lorazepam, oxazepam, tempazepam and methadone.

The new legislation provides a medical defence if you are taking medicine in accordance with the advice of a healthcare professional – provided your are not impaired.

A drug drive conviction will result in a criminal record, a minimum 12 month driving ban and a fine of up to £5,000. It could also cost you your job.

Drug test kit

Drug test kit

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