New roadside 'drug wipes' tests are set to be introduced by police in Northern Ireland in a bid to help make roads safer by removing those who risk safety by drug use while driving.
The new fast preliminary drug test provides results in around five minutes by testing a sample obtained from saliva, sweat, or even a surface using a lateral flow device, similar to those used during the pandemic to detect coronavirus.
Developed by Securetec, DrugWipe® can identify the presence or absence of up to seven drug groups at or above a predefined concentration limit. These include cannabis, opiates, cocaine, amphetamines, methamphetamines (MDMA, ecstasy), benzodiazepines and ketamine.
While limited information is available at this stage from the PSNI on the operation and enforcement of the roadside drugs tests, the technology is already in use in all other parts of the UK, was introduced in Ireland in December 2022, and is used internationally in Germany, Norway, the Netherlands, Spain, Australia, Italy and the USA.
According to the PSNI, the first stage of introducing the new detection device will be a controlled testing phase across Northern Ireland, followed by a service wide extension after project evaluation.
Chief Inspector Graham Dodds, Head of Road Policing, said:
“We are dedicated to continually improving road safety and robustly challenging those who reckless risk the safety of road users and the wider public.
"This important piece of equipment will allow us to target those using illegal drugs while driving and ensure they face the full rigours of the law for their lack of care for the safety of fellow citizens.
"Since January this year, 35 people have lost their lives on Northern Ireland’s roads. Those who drive whilst intoxicated by drink or drugs, in the same way as those who speed limits or drive without care, risk increasing this tragic tally and my officers will actively seek to challenge them at every opportunity.”