By Constantinos Psillides
A BILL allowing police to subject drivers to a narcotest will soon find its way to the House Legal Affairs committee, a police source told the Cyprus Mail.
The bill stipulates that drivers will be required to provide police officers with a saliva sample, to test whether they are driving under the influence of illegal substances.
Unlike the breathalyser test, there won’t be an acceptable limit. The narcotest will come back with a simple positive or negative for drug use. According to the police source, the device will determine whether the driver had used drugs over the previous 3-5 hours.
In case the test comes back positive, the driver will be escorted to a police station where he or she will be required to provide a second saliva sample to be sent to the State General Laboratory.
Introducing the narcotest has long been a demand of the police but issues of privacy and practicality always derailed any attempt at drafting legislation, since the initial plan was that the driver would provide a blood sample.
Representatives from the Justice ministry, the anti-drug squad YKAN and the state laboratory met on Wednesday and concluded that while a blood test is the most reliable method, a saliva test would also suffice. Police representatives argued that to take a blood sample would require special medical equipment or taking the driver to a hospital, which would not be feasible during a routine road check.
Despite drug use being illegal in Cyprus – even cannabis, the most popular drug substance among Cypriots – drivers testing positive will only be charged for driving under the influence and not having used an illegal substance.
The bill is expected to be up for discussion at the Legal Affairs committee after the Easter holiday break.