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Police ‘spitalyser’ to catch those who smoke weed and drive

Road-side cannabis testing equipment given £120,000 in government funding.

Police will begin trials of a device designed to test at the roadside whether a driver is under the influence of cannabis, it has been reported. The ‘spitalyser’ is expected to be announced by transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin later today.

The spitalyser, which tests for traces of cannabis in the saliva, will be used by 11 police forces for a trial period, MSN Cars reported. The rollout is said to be costing the government £120,000.

Current law stipulates a driver suspected of drug abuse can only be tested at a police station if he or she fails a ‘Field Impairment Assessment’ and is subsequently arrested. The new proposals would allow cannabis testing to mirror the procedure used in testing whether a driver is over the legal alcohol limit.

The Government announced its crackdown on drug-driving in the summer of 2013 alongside news of a ‘drugalyser’ testing device.

“Drug driving is a menace which devastates families and ruins lives,” transport secretary Richard Hammond said at the time the new proposals were unveiled. “That is why we are proposing to take a zero tolerance approach with those who drive under the influence of illegal drugs and sending a clear message that this behaviour will not be tolerated.”

The drugalyser – not to be confused with the spitalyser – is able to test for eight illegal drugs such as cannabis, cocaine, MDMA and ketamine and eight legal drugs such as morphine and diazepam.

Impairment by drugs contributed to 1,012 casualties and 54 deaths in 2011.

We’ll bring you more details as they emerge.

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