In a move that is certain to be welcomed by insurers across the UK, the Queens Speech to Parliament today will include the introduction of “drugalysers” as a measure to combat the number of drivers who believe they can take drugs while driving a motor vehicle.
The announcement will also bring with it problems as each individual motor home insurance company has to decide on how it will deal with an insurance quote from a driver who has fallen foul of the new law, but most will see the legislation as a battle won in the war against rogue drivers. They will hope the new law will bring down further the accident rate on UK roads which in turn will lead to lower premiums for the majority of law abiding motorists.
There is no doubt that legislation is necessary. Only a few months ago experts at the Transport Research Laboratory estimated that drug abuse had been a contributing factor in approximately 1 out of 4 fatal accidents and called on the Government to take action. However, due to the difficulties the Police and Judicial systems have had in determining how big a factor drug taking affected the accident, drug abusers have usually walked away with lenient sentences. This should no longer be the case.
The new drug test, which will work in a similar way to the breathalyser, will bring uniformity to the way drug drivers are treated. Suspected drug drivers will be asked by a policeman to provide a saliva sample which will be then tested in the new machine. If the drugalyser gives a positive reading the motorist will then be taken to a police station where he will be tested using a specially calibrated machine. The machine will be capable of measuring the quantities of 13 commonly used drugs that can negatively affect a driver’s judgement. To back up the law new penalties will be put in place. A driver failing the test will be liable of fines up to £5,000 a driving ban for up to 1 year and in the most serious cases a jail sentence of 6 months.