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Mandatory provisions for roadside drug testing are enshrined in law

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The new rules will be in force over the June Bank Holiday Weekend.

Minister for Transport Jack Chambers has signed the Road Traffic Act 2024 (Commencement) (No. 2) Order 2024. This order begins Part 4 of the law, which deals with mandatory roadside drug testing for drivers involved in serious collisions.

The provisions will come into force from midnight on May 31, 2024.

After signing the decision, Minister Chambers said:

“The signing of the ‘mandatory drug testing’ provisions into law is an important milestone in our response to the trends we are seeing on our roads. Drunk driving is one of the top four causes of road fatalities and is simply unacceptable. Ensuring that enforcement by An Garda Síochána is supported by robust road traffic legislation is a priority for me and my department. The Government is committed to doing everything in its power to reverse the truly alarming trends we have seen in recent times, with fatalities increasing year on year. Every life lost is one too many on our roads. I am committed to starting work on the remaining provisions of the law in the coming period, which will further strengthen our response to the trend.”

The Road Traffic Act 2024 was signed by the President on April 17 and is an important part of the government’s response to the rising trend in road fatalities in recent years. The law is being implemented in phases and aims to bring about targeted and systemic changes in key areas related to dangerous driving.

From midnight on May 31, members of An Garda Síochána will be required to test drivers involved in serious collisions for the presence of drugs in their system. This follows the similar requirement for ‘mandatory alcohol testing’ under the same circumstances. In the past, Gardaí had discretionary powers to test for drugs. With research and evidence showing that drug driving is increasing on our roads, this change is designed to discourage dangerous driving and ensure that anyone driving under the influence and involved in a serious collision is caught.

The Ministry of Transport recently sanctioned the Medical Bureau of Road Safety to purchase an additional 10,000 ‘Drugwipe’ test kits this year. This should ensure that members of An Garda Síochána are adequately equipped to carry out a greater number of roadside drug tests.

The decision sets a maximum wait time of 30 minutes for roadside drug tests. The 30-minute period starts after a driver provides a saliva sample for drug testing. While it is uncommon for drivers to have to wait the full 30 minutes, unfortunate or unpredictable events can occur along the road, such as a faulty test or another motorist in need of urgent assistance. This 30-minute period allows the drug test results to develop, which typically takes eight minutes, and additional testing can be performed if necessary.

In addition to the introduction of mandatory drug testing, the law also provides for safer default speed limits on urban, national secondary and rural, local roads, as well as the introduction of other road safety measures that will be implemented in phases.

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