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Crackdown on drug drivers begins

First saliva drug tests find three in ten drivers consumed drugs within last 72 hours.

The first saliva tests of drug drivers have been a success according to Interior Minister Michèle Alliot-Marie.

She was present during the first operation using new saliva tests which can detect the presence of drugs such as cocaine, heroin, cannabis, amphetamines and ecstasy.

According to Dr Jean-Marie Ménard, who was also present during the first crackdown, the tests can detect the drugs up to 12 days after they were taken.

Three in ten drivers tested positive for drugs.

The saliva kits, which can produce results in eight minutes, will replace urine tests which need the presence of a doctor and are not as fast to carry out.

Those testing positive must take a blood test to determine the exact amount and type of drugs for prosecution and because some prescription drugs may be picked up.

The first stop checks were carried out in Antibes in the Alpes-Maritimes and
52,000 saliva kits have been distributed across the country.

The interior minister said the demonstration proved that it was possible to test for drugs quickly.

In 2005, a study by the Observatoire français des drogues et toxicomanies found that smoking a joint double the risk of having an accident on the road.

It said that every year 230 people died on the road as a result of drivers on cannabis.

Driving on drugs carries a maximum penalty of €4,500, two years in prison and a three-year driving ban.

Photo: Jonas Roux

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