Gardai can now test drivers for drugs at roadside as Road Traffic Bill passed

The Bill contains a series of reforms dealing with drug driving among other provisions

Drug driving, new bill, Paschal Donohoe, cannabis, heroin, cocaine, fines

Garda David Maguire and posed model Mark Adams being tested for drink driving | Image: RollingNews.ie

Minister for Transport Shane Ross welcomed the passing of the Road Traffic Bill 2016 by the Oireachtas.

The Bill contains a series of reforms dealing with drug driving; written off vehicles; mutual recognition of driver disqualifications between Ireland and the UK; uninsured drivers; and a new optional 20km/h speed limit in built-up areas among other measures. 

Under the new provisions, An Garda Síochána can now test drivers for drugs at the roadside. Current provisions for Mandatory Alcohol Testing (MAT) checkpoints will be extended to provide for Mandatory Intoxication Testing (MIT) checkpoints testing drivers for both alcohol and drugs.

Gardaí can ask drivers to undergo a preliminary drug test for cannabis, cocaine, a range of opiates -including heroin and morphine - and a range of benzodiazepines (including diazepam and flurazepam). 

"The new powers given to the Gardaí to test for drugs at the roadside will allow them to test for a wide range of drugs which could not be previously tested for" Minister Ross said. "These represent 95% of all drugs found by the Medical Bureau of Road Safety in samples sent to it for confirmatory testing in 2015."

Speed limit

The Bill creates a new option for local authorities to impose a special speed limit of 20km/h in built-up areas. 

This will be in addition to the existing possible speed limits for built-up areas of 50km/h, 40km/h and 30km/h. 

The new speed limit has bee introduced following the death of Jake Brennan, who was killed in a road traffic accidnet in a housing estate where he live.