Israel police car (Illustrative).
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Israel Police will soon begin conducting saliva tests on drivers to check if they under the influence of narcotics, following an amendment to the traffic ordinance adopted by the Knesset’s Economics Committee, marking the first time that police will have the authority to carry out examinations of this kind.
The amendment, which passed its second and third readings on Tuesday, was the initiative of Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan as part of his initiative to partially decriminalize the use of cannabis.
“Driving under the influence of drugs is one of the most serious offenses in the field of transportation, and so far the police have not had an effective tool to fight it,” read a statement put out by the minister.
While Erdan’s reform eases law enforcement against cannabis users, the minister said that he wants to ensure that it does not lead to an increase in the use of marijuana before driving and a subsequent increase in road accidents.
If the saliva test indicates a positive result, the driver will be sent to perform a blood or urine test to detect drugs in his/her body.
“In the context of the cannabis reform, I demanded that the Israel Police be provided with tools to ensure that drivers who use drugs do not get on the road,” Erdan said. “I believe that thanks to this authority the police will create significant enforcement and deterrence that will help prevent unnecessary deaths on the roads.”
Erdan spearheaded legislation to decriminalize cannabis the first three times someone is caught using it for personal use. The law, which was passed by the Knesset in July
, mandates that someone caused using cannabis would pay NIS 1,000 for the first offense, NIS 2,000 for the second if done within five years of the first, and a “conditional arrangement” for the third offense, which would require the cannabis user to pay a fine or do community service in lieu of a criminal charge. On the fourth occasion, criminal proceedings would be opened.
The law does not apply to minors or soldiers, nor to those who already have a criminal record.
Erdan has argued that criminalizing cannabis has failed to cause a decrease in the use of drugs, and that the right way to tackle drug use is via education, prevention and rehabilitation rather than criminal enforcement against regular citizens.
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