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Roadside Drug Testing – Is it all it’s cracked-up to be?

Written by: Alan Baker 29th January, 2016

The Government are seemingly euphoric after the publication of drug driving data in December 2015.

The campaign, which ran from December 1 – 31, saw 1888 drug screening devices administered by officers  with nearly 50 per cent of people stopped found to be under the influence of drugs.  More people were detected in December than in the whole of 2014.

This is a major development in road safety and motoring law but behind the headline figures, can we really totally rely on the results of portable testing?

There is no doubt that the CPS were frustrated at the number of drivers who have been acquitted of Driving whilst under through Drugs mainly due to the difficulty in proving impairment. The introduction of Statutory Limits means that such uncertainties were eliminated.

Equally so, police forces in their never-ending need to save costs yet increase arrests saw portable testing as a massive step forward. How much easier could it be to stop a driver, do a quick swab and get a conviction?

Whilst applauding any improvement in road safety I would caution against compete reliance on the results of, what are, screening tests. It is obviously for the individual to decide what they do when confronted with the results of such tests but in a very recent case that we encountered the individual field-tested positive for cocaine but was adamant that they hadn’t taken it (but were on medication). They paid for a private test which was shown to be negative, as was later confirmed by the police result.

So, my advice would obviously never take drugs and drive but of you find yourself testing positive for cannabis or cocaine and you’re adamant that its wrong, seek legal or scientific advice and think about getting the sample tested yourself.