Gardaí will be able to conduct roadside tests on motorists suspected of being under the influence of cocaine, cannabis and heroin under legislation introduced in the Dáil.
Minister for Transport Shane Ross said it was time to do strengthen the law on drug driving in a manner similar to current drink driving legislation.
Exceptions will be made for a “small proportion of multiple sclerosis patients” likely to be prescribed a recently legally licensed form of cannabis, a medication called Sativex, he said.
Introducing the Road Traffic Bill, previously passed by the Seanad, the Minister said the legislation would also allow local authorities introduce speed limits of 20 km/h.
The lower speed limit would not be mandatory as the Jake’s Legacy campaign had advocated in the wake of the death of Jake Brennan (6) in a road traffic incident on the Kilkenny housing estate where he lived.
Mr Ross said the 20km/h limit would not be appropriate to all housing estates and would be difficult to enforce but would be suitable in densely inhabited areas where children might be playing.
The Bill will also give effect to an agreement between Ireland and the UK on mutual recognition of driver disqualification for Gardaí & Police.
And the legislation will introduce a provision for a “third payment option” for fixed charge notices. It will offer a third chance to people to pay fines issued by Gardaí before having to appear in court.
Motorists who have failed to pay a fixed penalty notice within 28 days, or to pay a higher charge after a further four weeks will receive a third payment notice along with a court summons, allowing court proceedings to be dropped if they pay not more than seven days before the scheduled hearing.
Mr Ross said it would “put an end to cases of people turning up in court and claiming they never received a fixed charge notice”.
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