Roadside “Drugalyser” tests are now more common following the introduction of new Drug Driving laws in March 2015
It has long been an offence to drive while under the influence of drugs whether these are legal medicines or not. If the police have reason to believe that you are
driving a vehicle under the influence of drugs an allegation of “driving whilst unfit” could be bought against you.
In order for a conviction a court must prove that the accused was indeed unfit to drive because of drugs and that the persons driving was affected.
The latter point is often ascertained by police officers via a Field Impairment Test or FIT as it is commonly abbreviated. In a Field Impairment Test you will be asked to carry out 5 tests while being observed by police officers. The tests are:
Puillary test : An assessment of the drivers pupils size and reaction to light. Certain drugs effect the pupil, for example heroin makes the pupil shrink whereas drugs such as cocaine make the pupils dilate.
Romberg test: The driver is asked to tilt their head back slightly, shut their eyes and tell the officers when they think 30 seconds has passed. This test assesses an individual’s balance and time judgement both of which are effected by drug intake
Walk and turn test: This tests balance and not reacting to instructions. A driver will be asked to walk heel to toe in a straight line until asked to turn. The driver is asked to count out the steps as they walk.
Finger to nose test: Testing depth perception this simple test involves the driver being asked to touch the end of their nose with a finger whilst tilting their head back slightly and having their eyes shut.
One leg stand test: A driver will be asked to stand on one leg while counting out loud. The Police officer will be assessing the drivers balance.
With the introduction of new laws in March 2015 the police may use a “drugalyser” at the roadside to test for drug presence and therefore not need to perform all of the above tests.
What happens if you fail the roadside test?
Should you be in a position whereby you are deemed to have failed the roadside assessment you will be asked to give a blood sample at the police station. If for some reason you do not consent to the biological sample then you potentially could be charged with another offence, namely “failing to provide”.
New drug driving laws
It is important to stress that the old laws surrounding drug driving and driving whilst unfit have not changed however a new law was introduced in March 2015 which meant that a conviction of drug driving could be based on solely on the results of a blood test and the amount of a drug in the blood. Therefore the proving of driving impairment is not necessarily required.
Sentences for drug driving
Someone convicted of drug driving will be automatically disqualified from driving for a minimum period of 12 months. On top of that they will face an unlimited fine, up to 6 months in prison and criminal record. The convicted person’s driving licence will show a drug driving convection for 11 years.
What can a drug driving solicitor do for you?
Clearly the courts take drug driving very seriously with potentially life changing consequences. If you think you are being wrongly accused or investigated for a drug driving offence it is imperative to seek legal advice from an experienced Drug Driving Solicitor at the earliest opportunity. The sooner contact is made the sooner the solicitor can make a judgement on the circumstances and potential prosecution against you and offer robust legal advice.