New weapon in police fight against drug drivers

Reporter Tom Cotterill is tested with the new kit (Pic by Jon Rigby) PPP-150226-163755003
Reporter Tom Cotterill is tested with the new kit (Pic by Jon Rigby) PPP-150226-163755003

POLICE across Sussex have unleashed a new weapon which they hope will help rid the roads of dangerous drug drivers.

On Monday, the force unveiled a new ‘drugalyser’ that will allow officers to test if a motorist has taken cannabis or cocaine, among other substances.

The latest road safety tool was revealed and demonstrated at Arundel Police Station, one of the bases for the county’s road policing unit.

The £20 DrugWipe system allows officers to determine in about eight minutes whether motorists have the illegal substances in their bloodstream, using a swab from inside a driver’s cheek and on their tongue.

Inspector Stewart Goodwin, of Surrey and Sussex road policing unit, said: “Drug-driving is a widespread but often hidden menace across the country.

“You don’t have to be on illegal drugs to be unfit to drive - many prescription or over-the-counter drugs can also impair your ability to drive.

“In the same way that we take a zero tolerance approach to drink-driving, we will also not tolerate drug-driving.”

It comes as new legislation came into force this week which now sets legal limits for how much of a substance – both illegal drugs and prescribed medication – motorists can have in their system while driving.

Officers no longer need to prove that a motorist is fit to drive – just that they have an illegal level of drugs in their system while driving.

Illegal drugs covered by the new rules include cannabis, cocaine, ecstasy, heroin and ketamine.