Drug-driving devices to be tested


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The Independent Online

Devices to test if drivers have taken drugs before getting behind the wheel could be approved for use in police stations by the end of the year.

The Government said today that manufacturers have been invited to submit their machines, which will need to screen for one or more illegal drugs, for laboratory testing.

Suitable devices need to be legally approved by the Home Office before use.

Once approved, the machines will be based in police stations and allow officers to administer a drug test without the need to wait for a doctor to arrive to take a blood sample.

The development builds on the Government's announcement last month of a new drug-driving offence which will see offenders subject to up to six months in prison.

Policing Minister Nick Herbert said: "Drug-driving can be deadly and it is vital police have the right tools to bring offenders to justice.

"Inviting devices for testing represents real progress and underscores the Government's message that driving while under the influence of drugs is unacceptable and dangerous and people will not get away with it."

Work is also under way to take forward the development of portable drug-testing devices for police use with the aim of achieving approval by 2014 - when the new drug-driving offence is expected to come into effect.

Testing of station-based devices will begin at the Home Office's Centre for Applied Science and Technology this summer.

Once introduced, drivers who refuse to co-operate with the tests will be committing an offence similar to that of refusing to take a breath test.