Ten things to know about the new drug driving laws

New laws to tackle drug driving are now in place for over a week writes Geraldine Herbert but there is still much confusion surrounding them

  1. In some respects the law is not new as it has long been an offence to drive under the influence of an intoxicant i.e. Alcohol, Drugs or a combination of both.
  2. Since November 2014 Gardai have been conducting “Roadside Impairment Tests” to determine if someone is under the influence of drugs.
  3. The Roadside Impairment Tests consists of testing for pupil dilation, asking motorists to touch their nose with their finger, assessing balance, a walking test, and standing on one foot for a count of eight
  4. The new law extends the powers of the Gardai and gives them a new means to determine whether a motorist has taken drugs by using a device known as the Drager DrugTest 5000 at the side of the road.
  5. It works by analysing a saliva sample.
  6. The new device specifically checks for 4 types of drugs, cannabis, cocaine, benzodiazepines (Valium-like drugs) and Opiates.
  7. Essentially these fall into two broad categories of drugs; those that slow you down and those that speed you up – but they all potentially can influence your driving by altering your reaction times and judgement.
  8. If you are found to be taking cannabis, cocaine and heroin above the specified limits, you can be prosecuted for drug driving even if your driving is not impaired.
  9. If you test positive for benzodiazepines or opiates and the Garda will decide by speaking to you and if necessary by conducting a Roadside Impairment Test as to whether in his/her opinion your driving is impaired.
  10. The Road test is NOT evidence, it is only a preliminary test so a further specimen of blood or urine will be required and will be taken in the Garda station.


For more information watch a discussion on the Claire Byrne Live programme on RTE about the subject

For more information check out the RSA site


Geraldine Herbert

25th April, 2015

Author: Geraldine Herbert

Contributing Editor and Motoring Columnist for the Sunday Independent and editor of wheelsforwomen. Geraldine is also a regular contributor to Good Housekeeping (UK) and to RTÉ Radio One, Newstalk, TodayFM and BBC Radio. You can follow Geraldine on Twitter at @GerHerbert1

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