GMP will NOT be enforcing tough new drug-driving law over concerns about the equipment.
Officers and medical experts have expressed concerns over the screening device and the ability to uphold the new legislation in court, as well as insufficient training.
A tough new law against drug-driving comes into force next week – but Greater Manchester Police will not be enforcing it.
‘The biggest shake-up of drug-driving laws for 85 years’ will be rolled out by the Department for Transport next Monday.
Modelled on drink-driving testing, it places legal limits on eight illegal drugs and eight medicinal drugs.
The Department for Transport has set low limits for illegal drugs like heroin and cocaine and higher limits for the eight prescription drugs.
Police are meant to enforce the new laws with roadside saliva-testing kits followed by blood and urine tests at the station.
But, despite supporting in principle a law that prevents drug-driving, both GMP officers and medical experts have expressed concerns over the screening equipment and the ability to uphold the new legislation in court.
They fear it could waste public money and police time. It’s understood there are also concerns over insufficient officer training on the use of this new technology.
‘It’s a legal minefield – it’s not practical’
A medical expert who specialises in drug and DNA testing has slammed the new legislation as a ‘legal minefield’.
Nichola McChrystal, scientific director for Salford-based Bioclinics, has also accused the government of being ‘well behind’ when it comes to efficient enforcement of the new law.
She told the M.E.N: “I do agree with laws to prevent drug-driving because the number of people who are driving after taking drugs is immense.”
“But it’s a leap from alcohol testing into this – and there are lots of arguments defence lawyers could come up with in court.
“The roadside test only picks up cocaine and cannabis. The screening devices aren’t ready. it’s going to be really difficult.
“They are basically not ready to enforce a law that covers all the things they want it to cover.
BioClinics specialises in drug-testing for firms and DNA testing for use in family courts.
She added: “Considering the number of years they have been planning to do this the people at the government agencies don’t seem to have got very far.”
She said the law would be very difficult to uphold before the courts.
She added: “The problem is that every individual is completely different.
“If that person has followed their prescription, they might function on a large dose, whereas someone else might be completely out of it. People take differing times to excrete drugs from their system. There are just too many factors.”
She said it would make life tricky for the police too.
She added: “It’s going to take a lot of training so officers understand how they work. They will have to make sure they use the device properly, and prove there was a reason to pull the driver over in the first place.
“They will then have to take them back to the station and follow protocol. “
“If a doctor has said to a person you need this drug for pain because you aren’t sleeping, and then a blood test shows they are over the limit it will be very difficult to prove someone has taken more than a doctor has prescribed because levels in blood do not directly link to dosage.
“It’s a legal minefield. It’s not practical.”