By Evie Andreou
The narcotest bill, which has been under discussion for the last five years, is expected to be tabled to the plenum for a vote in November, the head of the House Communications committee Antonis Antoniou said on Thursday.
The bill was discussed at a joint meeting of the House communications and legal affairs committees.
Antoniou said that the bill provides for strict, deterrent penalties for anyone driving under the influence of drugs or refuses to provide saliva or blood for narcotest. It calls, he said, for imprisonment up to three years, a fine up to €3,500 and deprivation of driving licence for up to three years. It also provides for three to six penalty points on offenders’ driving licences.
Antoniou said that driving under the influence of drugs has evolved into a particularly serious problem for road safety, since statistics he said “are shocking”. “Between 2004 and 2014 out of a total of 162 deaths caused by drug use, 55 or about 34 per cent, were due to road traffic collisions”.
“In 2015 alone, we had seven deaths in road accidents caused by driving under the influence of drugs,” he said.
Antoniou said that this alone demonstrated the need for legislation regulation. The narcotest bill provides that anyone who drives or attempts to drive under the influences of drugs or refuses to give saliva or blood for testing, he or she is committing an offence.
According to the bill, drivers will initially give saliva for a preliminary test, and if drugs are detected, the person concerned will be asked to provide saliva again for laboratory testing, at the state lab. He added that the bill would be put to the vote in plenary session in November.
DISY MP Aristotelis Misos said that based on statistics from police records, a number of fatal accidents in recent years were due to cannabis and cocaine use.
“It’s obvious that driving under the influence of drugs is another factor in fatal and serious accidents,” he said, adding that users of drugs, like alcohol users, endanger not only their lives but also of their “innocent fellow men”.
Misos said that there is an immediate need for the enactment and enforcement of the legislation.