Police to step up detection of drug-impaired drivers on the road

Publication date 13.11.2023 10.32
News item

Going forward, the police plan to systematically carry out rapid roadside drug tests on all drivers of motorised vehicles involved in accidents, for example.

In addition to alcohol breath screening, drug tests have earlier basically been administered in accidents only when the driver's behaviour has given rise to suspect use of a narcotic substance.

By law, the police may use an alcohol screening device or a rapid roadside drug test on all drivers of a motorised vehicle. However, breathalysing with an alcohol screening device is the primary means. The driver primarily undergoes a precision breathalyser test where the police suspect drunken driving, and a blood test is taken where drug-impaired driving is suspected.

In the event of an accident, a person guilty of driving while seriously intoxicated usually forfeits their insurance compensation as do any passengers in the vehicle. Re-offending drink drivers may have their vehicle confiscated in court proceedings, which may order the vehicle to be forfeit to the State.  

The most important job is to guide substance abuse-drivers to seek treatment. The earlier substance abuse is brought under control, the better for both the individual and society.

The police have put out rapid roadside drug tests to tender. The devices are familiar from earlier years and their use will be ensured by training provided by the importer of the device.

The new guidelines are based on the National Police Board's Guidelines on determining the driver's fitness to drive in traffic enforcement, which entered into force on 23 October 2023. 

Drug-impaired driving has decreased

Trend in quantities of the most commonly detected narcotic substances 2016−2022.
Source: NBI: Forensic laboratory statistics
amphetamines, methamphetamine, buprenorphine, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), cocain

The increase in drug-impaired drivers levelled off in 2020. Wastewater research conducted by the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare shows exactly the same trend, which means there have also been fewer drugs on the market. However, the use of all intoxicants in traffic also increases the risk of committing offences other than drink driving. 

By the end of September 2023, the police had caught around 7,000 drivers under the influence of alcohol in traffic and around 4,500 drug-impaired drivers.