Majority of Irish drivers back drug testing

Majority of Irish drivers back drug testing

Eight out of every 10 Irish motorists support the new Garda Drug Testing, it has emerged.

Out of the 3,000 people surveyed by AA Ireland, 97% in total said they were supportive of the new measures.

In Cork, almost 78% of people said they were “very supportive” while a further 12.5% said they were “somewhat supportive”. Roughly 4% said they did not support the idea, while the remaining 6% said they had no opinion.

Nationally, older drivers displayed the most support with 85% of those over 65 being very supportive of the new testing, while support among women is also slightly higher.

The new testing allows gardaí to identify motorists driving under the influence of cocaine, marijuana, opiates and benzodiazepines such as Valium.

“Gardaí have always had the ability to test drivers for drugs which may impair their driving ability but had previously relied on less scientific testing such as a balance test,” said Conor Faughnan, Director of Consumer Affairs at the AA.

“From now on, at specific checkpoints set up for the purposes of drug testing, a saliva sample will be taken by Gardaí and a result will be provided to Gardaí within 15 minutes. In the event of a positive test the driver will then be brought back to the Garda station where a blood sample will be taken for further analysis.” 

However, in response to concerns surrounding the testing for prescription drugs, the AA have said that Gardaí will also be required to prove that the motorist’s ability to drive has been affected by the medication.

"If you are taking a prescribed medication in accordance with your doctor’s advice and have not been told that you cannot drive while using it then there is no cause for concern,” said Mr Faughnan.

"However, if you do have any doubts about your medication or have felt side-effects which may impact your driving ability after taking the medication then it’s important to consult your doctor or pharmacist to get the best advice or an alternative medication is necessary."

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