Thursday 27 June 2019

Wexford Gardaí go high-tech in their drug-driving battle

Garda Sgt Peter Griffin operating the unit at Wexford Garda Station.
Garda Sgt Peter Griffin operating the unit at Wexford Garda Station.
The test unit showing negative results
Sgt Peter Griffin, Inspector Syl Hipwell and Garda Alan Hayes

Brendan Keane

The Gardai in Co Wexford have received two new state-of-the-art drug fluid testing machines as part of their overall aim of clamping down on incidents of drug driving in the county.

The Drager 5000 is one of the most up-to-date pieces of equipment available to the traffic corps and at a promotional event in Wexford Garda Station members of the force outlined how the machine is used.

Inspector Syl Hipwell, Sergeant Peter Griffin and Garda Alan Hynes were on hand to give an example of the process through which a driver is tested and ultimately brought to court if the test results from the machine are positive.

Inspector Hipwell spoke to this newspaper about the equipment and outlined that in addition to the two mobile units that will be in place countywide there is also a static version of the same machine in Wexford Garda Station.

Such is the newness of the equipment that none of the 'several' people who recorded positive readings as a result of being tested by the unit so far have had their cases brought before the courts.

It's believed that at least 40 people have impending court cases ahead of them as a result of testing positive for drugs during roadside tests using the Drager 5000.

The main drug recorded is cannabis resin and as Inspector Hipwell pointed out if someone has a number of different drugs in their system they will face charges in respect of each of them.

In that regard drug driving offences differ slightly from drink related matters.

In the case of a drink driving offence if a person has 10 pints, gets behind the steering wheel of their car and is stopped and breathalysed they will be conveyed to a Garda station once they record a positive reading. They will ultimately be charged based on the one blood or urine alcohol reading rather than in respect of each drink over the limit.

In drug driving cases a charge will be alleged against a defendant in respect of each drug, over the limit, that they test positive for.

Inspector Hipwell highlighted that drugs like cannabis resin stay in a person's system for a long time.

'When someone fails a roadside test they are taken to the station where a blood or urine sample will be taken,' he said.

'It could be a case there are a couple of substances in his or her system and there will be a separate charge for each of them,' he added.

Participating in the showcase was one of the last duties of Garda Alan Hayes before he moves to Waterford this month on promotion to Sergeant.

The Drager 5000 will now be utilised across the county by the Wexford traffic corps division.

Wexford People

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