The government’s “zero-tolerance” policy on reckless driving has led to widespread confusion over the new measures, particularly in regards to driving under the influence of drugs.
A 33-year-old man who was caught speeding and tested positive for drug use had his licence revoked on Tuesday. Lab results later showed he tested positive for cocaine use.
But wider questions have been asked about accuracy and equal treatment under the new policy.
Many drivers are unclear as to exactly which road violations qualify for a person to have their licence revoked.
To make matters even more confusing, there are two separate categories of losing a licence.
The first is a temporary suspension while their case is examined and the second is an outright revocation of the licence after their case has been studied.
The offender has 14 days to file a complaint.
A common question from the public has been whether testing positive for any drug whatsoever, and any amount will lead to them losing their licence.
“Yes, driving under the influence of drugs and testing positive will lead to at least a suspension of the licence until detailed lab results arrive,” Police Spokesman Christos Andreou replied when asked to clarify on this issue.
The grey area is that a person may have smoked cannabis the night before and still test positive for a narcotest in the morning, hours after consuming the drug.
In this sense, a person who smoked a joint of cannabis and a person who had a heavy night of cocaine use would both be put into the same category – testing positive for drug use.
Asked on this issue, Andreou said that “an initial test cannot tell when a person used the drugs or what drugs exactly, only that they are positive in the test and are under the influence – whether or not they did it the night before.”
He clarified that more detailed lab results which specify the type of drug used may impact the severity of the case against them.
The police have the right to temporarily suspend a person’s licence while they consider a full revocation.
“The least that will happen is a temporary suspension of their driving licence,” Andreou said. “If they are under the influence and are caught speeding or any other violations, then of course the case against is much more serious.”
Some have expressed frustration at an apparent unfairness in the process. A driver may lose their licence for light marijuana use, while a driver three times over the alcohol limit will be fined and may only receive a warning.
Drink driving remains common in Cyprus – in part – due to fairly lax laws, relative cultural acceptance and poor public transportation.
In the UK drivers are subject to harsh penalties for drink driving violations, such as a driving ban for at least one year (3 years if convicted twice in 10 years).
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