As of earlier this month, the Belgian authorities have begun systematically checking drivers for drug consumption after all crashes.
Georges Gilkinet, the Belgian Minister of Mobility said: “After having reduced the tolerance threshold for alcohol consumption leading to the temporary withdrawal of the driving licence, we are tackling another aspect of driving under the influence: drug consumption. From now on, in the event of a road collision, our police officers will systematically check for possible drug consumption. Too many lives are lost on the roads in Belgium and this is unacceptable. Everything must be done to combat dangerous driving behaviour and to reduce the number of victims of road danger. Carrying out drug driving checks more often plays a part in this. »
According to government-quoted figures, 5% of drivers admit to having already gotten behind the wheel after using drugs in Belgium. The phenomenon is significantly worse among young drivers with 1 in 7 young people having already driven after taking illicit substances.
When a road crash occurs, people either responsible or who contributed will be subject to a three-step drug test. Each of the successive steps can only be carried out if the result of the previous step is positive:
1) A standardised checklist, which includes around thirty indicators allowing the driver’s condition to be quickly assessed and whether recent drug use is suspected.
2) A saliva test, making it possible to detect or not the presence of an illicit substance.
3) A blood test, mandatory to confirm with certainty the consumption of the narcotic and pave the way for sanctions.
In Belgium, zero tolerance is applied to driving under the influence of illicit drugs. In addition to immediate confiscation of the driving licence if the result of the saliva test is positive, the driver risks disqualification from driving, a heavy fine and, in the most serious cases, a prison sentence.