One of Cambridgeshire's oddest traditions gets under way this morning...
Drug Drive Testing Equipment Developed In Blyth
New drug driving laws have come into force, and will be policed using equipment developed by Blyth company Dräger.
The fully automated Dräger DrugTest 5000, will be used by police forces around the UK, to test for cannabis and cocaine at the roadside - similar to the way drivers are breathalysed for alcohol.
The approval comes almost 50 years after Dräger became the first company in the UK to get type approval on a breathalyser - the Alcotest 80 tube in 1967.
The device (pictured) underwent rigorous testing at the Home Office's centre for applied science and technology (CAST), to confirm its accuracy. It has been designed for real time usage, with saliva samples able to be analysed immediately for precise results on the spot.
The approval of this mobile device also means officers will no longer have to wait until they are at the police station to test drivers they suspect of being on drugs.
And, the latest announcement comes as new drug driving legislation is due to come into effect in March 2015, meaning people caught driving under the influence of drugs will face harsher penalties including up to six months' imprisonment, a £5000 fine and 12 months' disqualification.
As well as becoming the first equipment to receive Home Office approval for a drug detection kit used in a custodial setting in 2013, the Dräger DrugTest 5000, which launched in 2009, becomes one of only two kits currently on the market with Type Approval for the roadside testing of cocaine and cannabis.
Policing Minister Mike Penning said:
"This Government is determined to drive the menace of drug driving from our roads.
Those who get behind the wheel while under the influence of drugs not only put their own lives at risk, but also those of innocent motorists and their passengers.
I'm delighted to have type approved the DT5000 for use by the police, which will allow them to more quickly test drivers for cocaine or cannabis - two of the most prevalent types of drugs detected among drug drivers."
Mark Burrup, Dräger Regional Segment Manager at Drager, said:
"We are delighted to receive Home Office approval for roadside usage of the Dräger DrugTest 5000.
As new legislation comes into place early this year, the DrugTest 5000 will have an important role to play in reducing the number of drug-drivers on the road and the impact they have on the safety of others.
This is a major step forward and will support the police in their crackdown to bring drug drive criminals to justice."
The Dräger DrugTest 5000 is already widely used by police forces around the country and the rest of the world, with around 2,000 sold in the UK and approximately 100,000 worldwide.
Whilst operating in real time, the Dräger DrugTest 5000 also has extensive data management capabilities, allowing for up to 400 individual measurements to be stored at any one time. An integral part of the equipment, this offers longer term solutions for users, with track-able data supporting target areas for enforcement.
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