POLICE have welcomed new legislation aimed to target motorists who are under the influence of drugs while at the wheel.
The new legislation, under section 5A of the Road Traffic Act 1988, allows officers to test anyone suspected of driving under the influence of excess drugs with a roadside kit.
The new legislation ... provides officers with an easier and quicker way to find out if someone is under the influence of drugs.Inspector Ed Turner, specialist operations unit
The kit will indicate if the person has been under the influence of cocaine or cannabis, or a prescribed drug which may contain traces of either.
Using the device means it is easier and quicker for officers to test someone and get the result.
Previously, under Section 4 of the Road Traffic Act 1988, officers had only the power to carry out a Field Impairment Test, or a FIT test, on those suspected of being under the influence of drugs. Blood or urine samples could also be taken from a person in custody on suspicion of the same offence.
Section 4 legislation is still available for officers to use should a test return a negative result or where a drug wipe test is refused and the person is still suspected of being under the influence of drugs.
Those on prescription medication are also advised to check the guidance that comes with their medication to ensure that they are fit to drive.
Inspector Ed Turner, from the Cleveland and Durham Specialist Operations Unit, said: “We work all year round to keep the people of Cleveland and Durham safe on our roads, including regular campaigns and operations.
“The new legislation gives us another tool to be able to do this and provides officers with an easier and quicker way to find out if someone is under the influence of drugs.
“Those who drive under the influence of drugs, or equally alcohol, put their lives and the lives of other innocent road users and pedestrians at significant risk.
“We have undertaken training so that our officers can use the new legislation to the best effect.
“Again, we would repeat our message to drivers – don’t get behind the wheel under the influence of drugs. It’s just not worth the risk.”