You may have noticed on TV and in print adverts recently that new methods of combating drug driving have come into force. With the aim of reducing the risk of collisions from impaired driving, the new “swab” is designed to detect a number of chemicals in the body which can identify a drug driver. Is it the best deterrent of drug driving yet? Or will it just serve to pick up more roadside fines?
Under The Influence
Drug driving is now considered to be the same as drink driving when it comes to offences behind the wheel. Both now carry the same penalties.
According to the government driving safety organisation, THINK!, penalties for being caught drug driving include a minimum of a 12 month driving ban, the potential of up to 6 months imprisonment, unlimited fines and a criminal record.
Unashamedly, gov.co.uk promotes other side effects of being convicted for drug driving as potentially losing your job, having trouble finding new employment, increased car insurance costs and even face rejection when wanting to enter countries such as the USA and Canada.
(The new drug driving PSA from THINK!)
A Needle in a Haystack
Previously, police were reduced to using basic roadside impairment tests to catch drug drivers. These tests included walking in a straight line, standing on one leg and checking for dilated pupils. This made it difficult to enforce, as passing the tests gave police little choice but to warn the driver and continue their journey. Simply suspecting a motorist would not have been enough to warrant an arrest.
The new drug driving swab means that the police are able to use a saliva sample to test for cocaine or cannabis within 6 minutes. This can be done at the roadside or alternatively, the swab can also be sent to a test lab for further readings of substances on the prohibited list. Even if a driver doesn’t show for either of the two on the swab, showing signs of impairment now give the police the right to arrest and prosecute, pending evidence from further testing.
The new measures have helped increase the arrest rate of drug drivers reportedly by as much as 800% by some local constabularies. Proving a driver to be impaired by drugs was once a difficult task for police; but thanks to the swab, that task has become very straightforward.
When looking at the new swab from a personal injury Solicitor’s viewpoint; Sincere Law believes the initiative can help reduce accidents caused by drug drivers and therefore protect innocent road users from suffering catastrophic injury at the hands of irresponsible drivers who are under the influence.
Sincere Law’s catastrophic injury Partner Chris Walker weighed in on the subject, stating “Any way of deterring drug drivers from taking the risk of going out on the road while impaired is something we support. We often see claims from clients who have been seriously injured at the hands of impaired drivers, both under the influence of drink and drugs so we welcome the initiative and hope to see positive trends for collisions and accidents relating to drug driving as a result.”
Are swabs the way forward to make the roads safer? We scoured Twitter to find out your opinion on the new procedures.
The new drug driving advert is actually quite threatening
— Faith ⚓️ (@FRMorgan) March 15, 2016
Mate that advert of the drug driving is haunting me
— Normanator (@georgia_norman) March 14, 2016
why is this even being proposed? “There’s no evidence oral swab tests result have any correlation to impaired driving.” #pseudoscience
— J Dominguez (@JoeyStats707) April 7, 2016