Home > Report on roadside drug testing and equipment and related matters.

Medical Bureau of Road Safety. Cusack, Denis A and Leavy, Pauline and Maguire, Richard (2012) Report on roadside drug testing and equipment and related matters. Dublin: Medical Bureau of Road Safety.

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This report is a study on all aspects of roadside drug testing, including reference to and analysis of any equipment currently in use or anticipated to be used to carry out such tests. The report considers the current definition of a “drug” and current drug analysis procedure under the Road Traffic Acts. As part of the evidence base for driving under the influence of drugs (DUID) the prevalence of drug taking in the general population, in the driver population, in suspected drugs driving population and the toxicology data for drivers in fatal crashes are presented and reviewed. International data and reports are also considered to inform the relevant bodies as to drugs that could and should be targeted for testing into the future. The studies indicate that cannabis and benzodiazepines are currently the most prevalent drugs in driving under the influence of drugs cases followed by the opiates, methadone and cocaine.

The effects of individual drugs on driving and the relationship between impairment and measurement of those drugs in the human body are examined. The methods of detection of DUID by means of roadside impairment testing and with particular emphasis on roadside drug testing in oral fluid are reviewed to include medical, practical and scientific considerations. The consequential confirmatory laboratory testing for drug detection in body fluids including oral fluid in the future is explored.

Previous international studies and the current status of roadside drug testing in the international literature by way of extended studies are presented and support the introduction of roadside chemical drug testing devices but also acknowledge certain limitations. The introduction of roadside drug testing devices is a far more complex and complicated initiative than was the case for roadside breath alcohol testing.

Four currently available roadside drug testing devices were considered and reviewed to inform this report regarding the operation of such devices, their storage and operation conditions, the scientific criteria on which they are based and also the countries which are currently using the devices or propose to use them in the near future.

The practices for DUID roadside testing in 13 other countries were surveyed and are reviewed and presented with 8 of these countries or jurisdictions already having in place provision for the use of such devices and the remaining 5 countries purposely relying on roadside impairment testing rather than devices.

The report sets out the considerations and options for the introduction of roadside drug testing devices in Ireland. The considerations are under four main headings - legal, operational, scientific and medical. A number of options are outlined with the considered recommendation being the combination of roadside traffic impairment testing and roadside chemical drug testing. An implementation plan for the introduction of the recommended option is set out including a timeframe for implementation of the roadside drug testing recommendation, if so approved.

Item Type
Publication Type
Irish-related, Report
Drug Type
Substances (not alcohol/tobacco)
Intervention Type
Harm reduction, Crime prevention
Call No
AN8, VH4.2
88 p.
Medical Bureau of Road Safety
Corporate Creators
Medical Bureau of Road Safety
Place of Publication
Accession Number
HRB 5088 (Available), HRB 5101 (Available)

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