Tourists driving in Cyprus this year should be aware that since January 15th 2018 a new drug-driving test has been introduced. Dubbed the “narcotest” it allows the police to perform a roadside drug test by using a saliva swab similar to the one used by UK police.
By placing a small strip of cloth inside a driver’s mouth the narcotest will show positive or negative for five specific drugs – cannabis, opioids, cocaine, amphetamines and metamphetamines.
If you are stopped by the police you may be requested to undertake the test – here is what you can expect and your rights:
The police announced that from Monday, January 15th 2018, the provisions of the Road Safety Law (Law 174/1986), concerning driving under the influence of narcotics will come into force. Initially there will be a short grace period, to allow for education on the provisions of the new law, which will end on January 24th.
When carrying out roadside checks (beginning on January 25th 2018) the police may request a sample of saliva from any driver. This will be a preliminary examination, lasting about five minutes and uses a special device. Taking a saliva sample can also be conducted at the nearest police station when there is no device available.
The law provides for the following penalties for the offence of driving or attempting to drive under the influence of drugs as well as for the offence of refusing or preventing a driver from giving a sample of saliva for either a preliminary or a laboratory examination:
- Penalty of imprisonment for a period not exceeding three (3) years or
- A fine not exceeding three thousand five hundred euros (€ 3,500) or
- A ban from driving for a period not exceeding three (3) years; or
- All or any of these penalties.
If the device indicator shows a positive result, the police will request the provision of an additional sample of saliva, for laboratory testing purposes. The specimen will be taken from the individual and then transferred to the General Laboratory of the State for the purpose of conducting the test.
If the result of the preliminary examination is positive or in case of refusal to grant a saliva sample, the police will arrange for the vehicle to be transported to the nearest police station. The driver will be forbidden from continuing to drive, but with their consent, the vehicle can be delivered to another suitable person, who can legally drive it.
The vehicle can also be driven from the checkpoint if this condition is met and the police will in this case not be responsible for moving and storing the vehicle.
In the case of a positive sample or refusal to give a saliva sample, the police will take the necessary measures to enable the driver to be safely transported to his / her place of residence.
During roadside checks all appropriate measures will be taken to ensure the health and physical integrity of both the drivers themselves and the police to prevent the transmission of any contagious disease.
Reminder: If a driver refuses to give a saliva sample, they will be tried in the same way as if the narcotest had been positive.
Revenue from drug-related driving convictions will be paid into a special fund to tackle drug addiction.