All roads policing officers in South Yorkshire are now trained to carry out new roadside drug tests.
As new legislation comes into force today, meaning that drug driving now carries the same penalties as drink driving, officers have been handed new drug testing equipment which can screen drivers for illicit substances at the roadside.
The kit works in the same way as alcometers, which detect alcohol in breath.
South Yorkshire’s Chief Inspector for Roads Policing, Glen Suttenwood, said: “It has previously been challenging for officers to determine at the roadside if someone is under the influence of a drug.
“Stopping a driver who you suspect may be under the influence of alcohol is relatively simple to determine either immediately by the smell or by using an alcometer kit.
“However to test for drugs, we have only been able to rely upon impairment tests, which include asking the driver to complete a series of tests and questions, for example walking in a straight line, to assess their capability to drive.
“If there is a suspicion they may be under the influence, the driver is arrested and a blood test required at the police station to determine whether there is a drug present in their system.”
The new roadside kits will now be used alongside impairment tests.
As with alcometer kits, the new equipment will highlight whether there is a drug in the driver’s system.
Ch Insp Suttenwood added: “There is an increase in the number of people who drive while under the influence of drugs and this is not acceptable; the consequences more often than not can prove fatal.
“As part of the introduction of roadside kits and the change in legislation, we are conducting a number of sessions in schools and colleges, to educate young people of the changes and the dangers of driving while under the influence.
“We are determined to make our roads in South Yorkshire safer and protect drivers in our county from irresponsible and thoughtless actions of others.”