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US-style test to spot drug drivers here

MOTORISTS will be asked to stand on one leg, as well as walk in a line, under new drug-driving tests.

Gardai are to be trained from May to spot drug drivers using the US-style roadside techniques.

They will check drivers' eyes for dilated pupils and carry out other physical co-ordination tests.

The tests will also include ordering a driver to stand on a single leg and also to walk in a straight line.

In the past, motorists who pass the drink-driving breath test and appear intoxicated could not be checked for drugs at the roadside.

The Road Traffic Act 2010 gives greater power to gardai to crackdown on motorists who are high on narcotics.

A spokesperson for the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform told the Herald that preparations to bring the new laws into action are ongoing.

"Some 80 garda instructors from all garda divisions will participate in an accredited certificate course in drug recognition and field impairment testing," the spokesperson said.





Surge

"Upon completion of their training, garda instructors will deliver a two-day training programme to all operational members of the force.

"This national training programme is scheduled to commence in May and will be rolled out to all divisions as soon as is practicable."

Other checks on steadiness will include drivers opening and shutting their eyes to detect possible drug use.

Under the new law, a driver who refuses to submit to the roadside test can be fined €5,000 and be jailed for six months.

With more than 700 drug-driving convictions a year, road safety experts and gardai believe the new laws will lead to a surge in new convictions.

It means 'high' drivers who think they can beat the system by not consuming alcohol will run a far higher risk of being arrested.

Gardai who believe a driver is on drugs after failing the impairment test can then arrest them for blood or urine tests at a garda station.

hnews@herald.ie