HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html British Police Plan New Drug Tests For Drivers
Pubdate: Thu,  3 Aug 2000
Source: Reuters
Copyright: 2000 Reuters Limited.


LONDON, Aug 3 (Reuters) - Drivers suspected of taking drugs may soon have 
to perform roadside balancing acts to prove they are not under the 
influence, the British Association of Chief Police Officers said on Thursday.

The tests will be "phased in over the coming weeks and months," and will 
include drivers balancing on one leg with their eyes shut while touching 
their nose with the index fingers.

Police will also ask drivers to walk in a straight line with their eyes 
closed while counting their steps and to count off an estimated 30 seconds 
without speaking, ACPO said.

They will also check drivers' pupils to check they are not dilated -- a 
sign of drug use.

"The tests will be on same basis as when people are breathalysed," an ACPO 
spokesman said.

"If police have cause to stop someone because of their driving, and the 
breathalyser shows they are not over the limit but they are clearly unfit 
to drive, police can apply these tests," he added.

If the drivers fail one or more of the physical and mental agility tests, 
which can be carried out three times, then they will be taken to a police 
station to give a blood or urine sample for analysis.

A question mark remains however over testing for cannabis, which can remain 
in the bloodstream for months.

"With cannabis there are some problems," the spokesman said. "If (the 
driver) had cannabis three months ago and it is still lingering in the 
bloodstream, a judgment has to be made as to whether it is the cause of the 
impairment through a medical exam."

The Automobile Association, welcomed the tests saying between 15-18 percent 
of drivers killed in accidents had traces of drugs in their bodies, though 
this did not necessarily mean their driving was impaired due to drug use.

Robert Lefever, the director of the PROMIS recovery centre which treats 
drug addictions, said the tests proposed by the police were "surprisingly 

"It is an excellent idea. People's judgement can be just as impaired 
through cannabis and drugs as through alcohol," he said.
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