Expanded drug testing aims to cut use by drivers

Checks for drug use among drivers are to be stepped up significantly, with the checklist of symptoms that determines whether officers can check a driver for drugs being expanded, Het Nieuwsblad writes on Monday.

There will also be a procedure for drivers who police seriously suspect are under the influence of new synthetic drugs or nitrous oxide, which cannot be detected through existing saliva tests.

Because a drug test is more expensive than an alcohol check, police officers use a checklist drawn up by experts. If officers notice at least three external signs of drug use, the driver has to undergo a saliva test. 

That checklist has now been greatly expanded with numerous possible symptoms of drug use, meaning drivers are more likely to be subjected to a test.

According to outgoing mobility minister Georges Gilkinet, a stricter approach is needed because drugs in traffic is an underestimated problem. An average of 36 drivers are caught driving under the influence of drugs every day in Belgium. Those caught risk a fine of more than 1,000 euros and a driving ban. 

A recent survey by the Flemish Foundation for Traffic Engineering showed that 15 per cent of young drivers have driven after taking drugs in the past year.


Drug testing in France © PHOTO THOMAS SAMSON / AFP

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