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Walsh, Simone (2013) Roadside drug testing. Drugnet Ireland, Issue 44, Winter 2012, pp. 21-22.

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The Medical Bureau of Road Safety (MBRS) published its Report on roadside drug testing and equipment and related matters in October 2012.1 Speaking at the launch, Professor Denis Cusack, director of MBRS, said ‘this report provides a detailed analysis of all aspects of roadside drug testing’.

‘Unlike alcohol, there is no legal limit for drugs. Under current road traffic law, the Gardaí must be satisfied that a driver is under the influence to such an extent as to be incapable of having proper control of a vehicle. This means that the Garda has to prove the driver impairment to the satisfaction of the Court and this can cause difficulties in successfully prosecuting such offences’, Professor Cusack said.

This report will inform the Road Traffic Bill which is currently at draft stage. The Bill will include new roadside impairment testing for drug use by motorists. Research is currently under way to identify a suitable device for detecting drugs at the roadside, similar to that used for detecting alcohol.

The National Drug-Related Deaths Index (NDRDI) at the Health Research Board made a substantial contribution to the MBRS report by providing a complete census of fatal road traffic collisions (RTCs) where the deceased person was the driver of the vehicle and had a positive toxicology report for an illicit substance. Currently the NDRDI is the only data source able to provide comprehensive data on the presence of illicit drugs in post-mortem toxicology. In the future the NDRDI will be able to monitor trends in drug-related deaths and evaluate the effects the new Road Safety Strategy will have on preventing these deaths.

The following analysis presents NDRDI data for the period 2004 to 2009 on RTC deaths among vehicle drivers in Ireland where the individual had a positive toxicology for one or more illicit drugs at the time of death. In this six-year period there were 93 of these deaths recorded by the NDRDI.

Cannabis (38.7%) was the most common illicit drug found in the toxicology reports on these 93 individuals, followed by cocaine (23.7%) and MDMA (18.3%) (Figure 1).

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Item Type
Publication Type
Irish-related, Open Access, Article
Drug Type
Substances (not alcohol/tobacco)
Intervention Type
Harm reduction, Crime prevention
Issue Title
Issue 44, Winter 2012
January 2013
Page Range
pp. 21-22
Health Research Board
Issue 44, Winter 2012
Accession Number
HRB (Electronic Only)

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