New Drug Driving Legislation enforced in Republic of Ireland

Drug Driving legislation enforced in Republic of Ireland

As of today, Gardaí in the Republic of Ireland will be granted permission to test motorists they suspect of driving under the influence of drugs at the roadside. Last December, Irish Government passed the Road Traffic Act 2016, which allowed for drug testing of drivers’ saliva both in garda station and by the roadside. The new legislation means a garda will not have to prove if a driver is impaired when it comes to a certain amount of drugs.

Furthermore, it means that drug driving legislation now falls in line with how alcohol has been treated in Irish road traffic law. The introduction of new legislation allows drivers to be tested for four types of drugs – cannabis, cocaine, opiates (such as morphine and heroin) and benzodiazepines (such as sleeping tablets and certain anti-anxiety medication).

The levels for which these drugs will be tested will be set, meaning that if drivers have went over those limits then gardaí will not have to prove impairment.

How will it be applied?

If a garda stops a driver at the roadside, they will be asked to provide a sample of saliva with a single-use swab. The sample will then be put into a machine, which will then run to determine if drugs are present. The process of running the sample would take around eight minutes. If a driver is found to have drugs present in their system, they will be arrested and brought to a garda station, where a blood sample will then be taken.

There will be a total of 86 drug screening devices located in stations across the country, while 50 more will be made available for use at the roadside. The gardaí have been in training on how to use the new roadside kits, and have also been informed that other drugs could potentially be added to the tests in future.


The penalties for drug driving is the same as for drink driving, with a maximum fine of €5,000, and up to four years in prison. The need for greater force with drug driving comes after The Medical Bureau of Road Safety Board found that out of the 9,734 specimens of blood and urine tested for the presence of a drug or drugs between the years of 2009-2015; 6,232 or 64% tested positive.

Randox Testing Services

At Randox Testing Services we believe that when it comes to driving, the safest thing to do is not to consume any drugs or alcohol at all. This is why we have taken steps to raise awareness of the problem and help offer practical advice. If you have any queries please contact