What to expect during a roadside drug test

As described in our article on “are random drink or drug tests legal”, you can be asked to undergo a roadside drug test if either:

  • The officer reasonably suspects you’ve consumed drugs;
  • The officer reasonably suspects you’ve committed a motoring offence;
  • You’ve been involved in an accident;

If you’ve never done drugs, or haven’t for several months, then being asked to undergo a roadside drug test should cause you no concern. However, recent use of drugs, sometimes as long as two or three days ago could result in a positive test, ultimately ending in a disqualification from driving unless a defence can be identified.

What happens during a roadside drug test?

You’d usually be asked to circle the inside of your mouth with your tongue three times. Once you’ve worked up enough saliva, the officer will use the sample collector to wipe saliva from your tongue.  The sample pads usually change colour indicating that the sample has been successfully collected.

The police officer would then place the sample collector back into the test cassette and click it back into place. The officer then holds the device vertically with the blue section at the top and presses until the sealed section of the capsule breaks. The police officer should continue to hold the device vertically for another ten seconds.

After obtaining the sample, the officer should leave the test undisturbed on a horizontal surface and read the test result after 8 minutes.

If a red line appears, even if it is very faint, then the test is positive, and you’ll be taken to the police station for an evidential blood test to establish the quantity of drugs that are in your system.

What the police should NOT do during a roadside drug test procedure

  • Don’t use the test if the expiration date has been exceeded;
  • Don’t use the test if the packaging is damaged;
  • Don’t use the test if the package contains any moisture;
  • Don’t use the test if the control line already appears red on opening the packet;
  • Don’t store the test at extremes of temperature such as extreme heat or frost;
  • Don’t open the test until shortly before intending to swab the driver.

If you’ve been subjected to a roadside drug test and you think the police have failed to follow the above guidelines, please contact a member of our legal team as soon as possible on 0330 33 22 770. There are numerous defences to drug driving, whether the police have breached procedure at the roadside, police station or hospital. It may not always be obvious that the police have made a mistake, so it’s vital to gain expert opinion on whether you have a case to fight. It could make the difference between walking away from Court with your licence intact or facing a minimum twelve-month ban from driving and a criminal record.

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Article written by Alison Ashworth, Specialist drink and drug driving solicitor and Managing Director of Ashworth Motoring Law. Alison has a first-class honours degree in law and has appeared on various TV and Radio programs to discuss drink and drug driving. Widely considered the “go-to” expert in the field of motoring law, Alison has outstanding rates of securing not guilty verdicts in cases involving drink and drug driving. If you would like Alison to personally look into your case, please call our advice line on 0330 33 22 770 and ask to be transferred directly to her.

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