Scotland

Police Scotland unveil new drug-driving detection kits

drug-driving test
Image caption The testing kit uses a mouth swab

Police Scotland has unveiled its new drug-detection kit ahead of updated drug-driving laws coming into force.

Officers will be able use DrugWipes - dubbed "drugalysers" - to check for cannabis and cocaine.

The roadside kit uses a mouth swab, with and a blue line appearing if the person has taken the drugs.

Scotland's Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said the regulations coming into force on 21 October will "not only make our roads safer but will save lives".

The new testing kits highlight an "almost zero limit" on cannabis and cocaine.

Drivers will still have to be taken to a police station for a blood test for 17 other substances including ecstasy, LSD, ketamine and heroin.

Image caption The DrugWipe gives a positive or negative reading at the roadside

Currently, when police suspect a motorist of drug-driving they carry out the roadside "field impairment test".

If the individual fails this, they can be arrested and taken to a police station where a doctor must certify that the person is impaired to the extent that they are unfit to drive.

A driver will then be asked to provide a blood sample.

England and Wales introduced drug-driving limits and roadside testing in 2015.

Image caption Humza Yousaf has promised a zero-tolerance approach to drug-driving

The Scottish government has previously been criticised for not implementing the same regulations - saying it wanted to "bed in" new lower drink-drive limits which came into force in 2014.

But Mr Yousaf said the introduction of the new drug-drive limits meant Scotland was "far ahead of anywhere else in the UK".

He added: "The police are ready, they have the tools necessary and if your are caught there will be a zero-tolerance approach and you will face some hefty consequences."

Image caption Ch Supt Stewart Carle expects the new kit to detect many more drug-drivers

Ch Supt Stewart Carle, head of road policing at Police Scotland, said the kits formed part of a wider crackdown on drug crime.

He said: "We hope this will reduce the demand for those drugs and thereby have a wider benefit to to our communities.

"Drug dealing is a big problem in Scotland - we know that and we're trying to tackle it. This is just another tool in our armoury.

"At the moment, we catch about 200 drug-drivers every year. This new power is going to allow us to do roadside screening and I would expect to detect a lot more.

"We've trained over 500 officers and we will continue to train more over the coming year."

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