Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Police make first arrests on Merseyside using tough new drug driving legislation . . .

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Police make first arrests on Merseyside using tough new drug driving legislation

Cited at:
http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/police-make-first-arrests-merseyside-9029371

Now illegal to drive with certain drugs - including medicines - above specific levels in the body


Police on Merseyside have made their first arrests using tough new drug driving legislation – and today warned more are to come.

Two people were arrested for drug-driving offences after new drug limits – and roadside testing kits – came into force in March.

Modelled on drink-driving testing, it is illegal to drive with certain drugs above specified blood levels in the body.

These limits are set at very low levels for eight illegal drugs – including heroin, cocaine and cannabis – and eight medicines that have been set at a higher limit.

The force confirmed today that two drivers had been detained using the new law, as well as ten other suspects held through existing drugs legislation.

A 33-year-old cab driver arrested after his taxi was in collision with John McShane, 49, in St Anne Street on Thursday was quizzed on suspicion of drug-driving. Mr McShane later died in hospital. It is understood the driver was detained, and then later bailed, using existing narcotics legislation.

Inspector Mike McFall, said: “Whilst these arrests have been the first for us under the new law, they won’t be our last.

“People who take drugs and get behind the wheel can have slower reaction times, struggle to concentrate and can behave more erratically on the roads, putting both themselves and other people in danger.”

“We will not tolerate drug-driving and would urge anyone who thinks they know someone who is driving after taking drugs to contact us urgently so that we can act.”

“Our main aim across Merseyside is to improve the safety of road users and this legislation provides us with an additional tool to help us with this task. As with drink driving, our advice is simple, just do not drive if you have taken drugs”

The new law is aimed at stopping drivers taking any drugs which could impair driving.

The penalty under the new offence will be a 12-month ban, disqualification, a fine up to £5,000 and up to six months in prison or both.

To help the screening process, forces across the country have been kitted out with saliva testing devices.

The new law provides a medical defence if someone is taking medicine in accordance with the advice of a health professional, provided they are not impaired.

The eight medicines are:

  • Morphine, used to treat pain
  • Diazepam, clonazepam, flunitrazepam, lorazepam, oxazepam, temazepam, used to treat anxiety or inability to sleep
  • Amphetamine, used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and Parkinson’s disease

The equipment issued to the police has been dubbed DrugWipe. It is a saliva testing device was created by Dtec International, which has also trained every police service in the country.

It’s the first portable device that can detect the presence of cannabis and cocaine – two of the most common substances used by drug drivers.

Drugwipe is a disposable detection device that works by analysing a small quantity of saliva.

The results are indicated by the appearance of lines on the device (similar to a pregnancy test) within eight minutes of starting the test.

Following a positive reading, the police will take the driver to the police station for a blood sample, which will be used in any subsequent prosecution.

A spokesman for Detec said: “This new law is the same as a breathalyser.”
“The DrugWipe will screen for cannabis and cocaine over a set level and then a blood test at the station will be sent to the laboratory to confirm the amount in a driver’s blood. This will be used for legal purposes. The prosecution lies in the level in the blood.”

This device is the only one of its kind that can be used outside – on the roadsides.

He added: “These devices are here to save lives. The message is, if you are going to take drugs get a taxi. Don’t take drugs and drive.”










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