Festive drivers 'drugalyse' threat
A new roadside test could be used by police as part of a Christmas and New Year crackdown on drug driving, a home officer minister has indicated.
Policing minister Mike Penning said motorists pulled over will not know whether they will be breathalysed, "drugalysed" or both.
The new drug-testing kits approved by the Home Office will analyse samples of saliva instantly to detect for both illegal narcotics and legal highs.
The Sunday Telegraph said police will also use the kits to catch drivers who have taken prescription medicines, including strong painkillers, sleeping pills and drugs to treat anxiety, that can impair their ability to concentrate on the road.
Mr Penning told the newspaper the "drugalyser" kits were approved by officials last week for use in prosecuting motorists who drive while impaired by a range of illegal and prescription drugs.
"This is something that has plagued society for far too long," he said.
"People will have exactly the same view of drug-driving as they do of drink-driving: it is an abhorrent thing to do.
"Not only do you put your own life at risk, but you put innocent people's lives at risk.
"We will drive this menace off the road.
"You won't know if that constable at the side of the road is going to breathalyse you or if he is going to breathalyse you and drugalyse you.
"The answer is, do not drink and drive and do not take drugs and drive, whether they are legal or not."
At present, officers have to arrest suspects and take them to a police station to undergo time-consuming blood tests that must be conducted under medical supervision.
People taken to a station for testing "would claim that they had religious reasons or were haemophiliacs" or had other special reasons that meant they could not give a blood sample, he said, and while they wasted time arguing the drug was leaving their bodies.
"This will transform the ability of officers (in cases where) they know someone is impaired but breathalyse them for drink and find they have not got enough alcohol in their bloodstream to prosecute, but they're still completely out of their tree.
"They will be able to do a saliva test at the roadside and a saliva test at the station."