UK Drug Driving Roadside Test

Increase in number of charges being brought by police for drug driving

Drug-Driving is a growing UK problem with a steady year on year increase in the number of charges being brought by the police against UK drivers for drug driving (driving while under the influence of drugs )

Roadside testing was introduced by authorities in England in 2015. The drugalyser tests an oral fluid sample. The testing officer can select (from an approved set of test cartridges) which drugs are included in each test. By 2019 the annual convictions for drug-driving totalled 12500 44% of these offences were repeat offenders.

The most recent data set is for 2022 with 58117 convictions.

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Changes To Drug Driving Law In UK occurred in March 2015 & Roadside Drug Drive Test Kits

The UK government brought new legislation into effect on 2nd March 2015 which allows the police to perform roadside drug testing using a roadside oral saliva drug testing kits or 'drugalyser'

What's the drug testing kit the police use

The drug testing kit that the police use at the roadside is called Drugwipe made by Securetec and distributed in the UK by D.tec International limited. The test brand has never been made commercially available for sale.

Which drugs are tested for on the UK roadside drug test

Initially, the police roadside tests were limited to screens for Cannabis and Cocaine.  

If they suspect other drugs have been used they may take the driver to the police station for further tests. A positive result on the roadside drug test will result in the driver being taken to the police station for a blood test.

The funding for roadside testing has varied since the introduction of the policy, and there is marked regional variation in the use and extent of drug testing by different forces. In theory all traffic police have the ability to perform a full roadside drug test during their shift.

The drugs that may be tested for under the new law include Cannabis, Cocaine, Ecstasy, Ketamine, Benzodiazepines, Methadone, Morphine or opiates.

Click here to buy drug testing kits that will screen for the drug driving test drugs

Are prescription drugs covered under the new roadside drug test

The following prescription drugs will also be covered under the new rules: Benzodiazepines including Clonazepam, Diazepam, Flunitrazepam (also known as Rohypnol), Lorazepam, Oxazepam and Temazepam

What are the penalties in the UK if you are convicted of drug driving? 

The legal penalties in the UK if you are convicted of drug driving are very similar to drink driving penalties and include losing your driving license, a fine of up to £5,000, up to a year in prison, and a criminal record.

The persons driving licence will also show that they have been convicted of drug driving. This will last for 11 years. When the driving license is re-instated it may be difficult to get insurance.

Drug driving test kits

drug driving test kits UK

The ALLTEST 6 Drug Saliva Drug Testing Kit DSD-867 MTD screens for the following drugs: Cannabis, Cocaine, Opiates, Amphetamine, Methadone, Benzodiazepine and is a good choice if you wish to screen for the drugs tested for on the UK police roadside drug test.

Roadside drug test detection times

Drugs are detected in saliva for up to a maximum of 72 hours after last use although many drugs including Cannabis are cleared much more quickly. Cannabis is usually only detectable in saliva for up to a maximum of 12 hours since last use. The advantage of saliva drug screening for roadside testing is that it looks for active impairment, no notice of testing is given, and that it mainly detects drugs that have been consumed within hours of the roadside drug test being performed rather than days.

The Police have the ability to perform confirmation laboratory testing of all roadside saliva screens. Most confirmations are performed on a venous blood sample.

Cut off levels using blood analysis for illegal drugs for confirmation laboratory tests (not roadside test kits)

It is an offence in the UK to drive with any illegal drugs above a specified level in your blood even if they haven’t affected your driving ability. It is also an offence if you’re unfit to drive because you’re on legal or illegal drugs (including prescription drugs) below guides are laboratory confirmation levels.

Cocaine (Benzoylecgonine) 10 micrograms per litre
Cannabis limit 2 micrograms per litre
LSD 1 micrograms per litre
Ketamine 20 micrograms per litre
MDMA, ecstasy and crystal meth having 10 micrograms per litre
Heroin 5 micrograms per litre

Cut off levels for prescription drugs

The cut-off levels for most prescription drugs are above the normal dose of the drug. Some prescription drugs do impair driving ability.

Drug driving limits for Cannabis in UK

The UK drug-driving limits for saliva screening tests are set so that passive inhalation of Cannabis will not cause a driver to be provide a positive test reult or be over the legal blood limit, but being under the influence of drugs while driving will give a positive result.

Roadside drug test UK page last reviewed and updated 4/04/24

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