Gardaí can now test you for drugs at the side of the road

New rules on drug testing at the roadside

Written by Brian Manning


A new law which came into force on the 12th of April 2017 now gives the Gardaí the power to test for drugs at the roadside using a device capable of testing a driver’s saliva for cannabis, cocaine, opiates, and benzodiazepines.

The Medical Bureau for Road Safety (MBRS) says that 24% of samples they received last year contained drugs other than alcohol. Cannabis was the most common drug they detected.

Speaking at the announcement of the enforcement of the new law Minister Shane Ross said;

“Driving under the influence of drugs has been an offence in Ireland since 1961. The law states that a person must not be impaired (through alcohol, drugs or any combination of both) while driving or in charge of a vehicle. However, driving under the influence of drugs remains a problem in Ireland. It is estimated that drug driving is a factor in approximately one in ten fatal crashes. Drug driving not only puts the driver at risk but also passengers and others who share the road. The introduction of Preliminary Drug Testing now strengthens the ability of the Gardaí to tackle the problem. This is just one step in a multi-faceted approach my Department and I are taking to tackle the recent increase in road fatalities.

The possible penalties for drug driving include:

  • Minimum of 4 years disqualification from driving if you are found that you do not have proper control of a vehicle due to intoxication. 

  • Minimum 1-year disqualification from driving if you are above the legal limit for cocaine, cannabis or heroin.
  • 6 months in prison
  • €5,000 fine

In addition to the above penalties, being convicted of drug driving could result in a criminal record and the loss of your driving license. 

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