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Thursday, 31 May, 2001, 13:18 GMT 14:18 UK
Tests to target drug-drivers

Polive will be able to stop drivers suspected of drug use
Drivers suspected of being under the influence of drugs are to be stopped and asked to undertake roadside exercises, police have warned.

Exercises such as standing on one leg, touching the end of their nose or walking in a straight line will be used to help police discover drivers who have taken illegal drugs.

Motorists who are suspected of being impaired by drugs could be arrested and examined by a police surgeon, where they may be asked to provide a blood or urine sample.

Research conducted by the Scottish Executive has indicated that nearly 10% of motorists under 40 have admitted to driving while under the influence of drugs.

Cannabis smoker
Studies have been carried out into drug driving
Officers from all eight Scottish police forces have completed an instructor's course allowing them to train colleagues to carry out the tests.

And from Friday, they can stop any driver they suspect of taking drugs and carry out a roadside impairment test.

It includes an examination of the drivers' eyes and their coordination ability.

David Mellor, Assistant Chief Constable of Fife Constabulary, said the Field Impairment Tests were very effective.

Drugs impaired

"Should anyone be thought to be drugs impaired they will be required to carry out a series of simple tests which are aimed at utilising the same psycho-motor skills which are required for driving," said Mr Mellor.

"They are both very effective and accurate."

Part of the evaluation will involve an examination of the pupils, asking the driver to tip his or her head back, close their eyes and estimate when 30 seconds has elapsed.

The motorists will then be asked to stand on one leg, walk and turn in a straight line and touch the end of their nose with their index finger.

Should the trained officers supervising the tests then decide that the driver has indeed been impaired, they would then be arrested and taken to a police station

David Mellor, Assistant Chief Constable of Fife Constabulary
Mr Mellor said: "Should the trained officers supervising the tests then decide that the driver has indeed been impaired, they would then be arrested and taken to a police station where they would then be further assessed by a police surgeon prior to appropriate samples being sought and the next steps taken towards possible prosecution."

John Vine, Chief Constable of Tayside Police and Chairman of the Association of Chief Police Officers Scotland Road Policing Standing Committee, said there was a minority of drivers using drugs.

He added: "Training our officers in these techniques demonstrates our commitment to tackling the menace of those who are prepared to risk innocent lives by driving while impaired by drugs.

"While I would much prefer that drivers take responsibility for their own actions and not take drugs and drive, clearly there remains a minority who only understand the language of enforcement.

"It is that minority who will be targeted using these new techniques."

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See also:

20 Feb 01 | Scotland
Drug-drive warning for clubbers
22 Jan 01 | Scotland
Crackdown on drug drivers
03 Aug 00 | UK
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26 Jan 00 | UK
Probe into drug driving
01 Apr 99 | Health
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