More drug users behind the wheel

The number of drug users behind the wheel in Sweden has shot up in the past decade.

In 1998, police busted 800 people driving under the influence of drugs, but in 2005, 7,000 intoxicated drivers were discovered on Swedish roads — an eight-fold increase.

“The abuse of both drugs and alcohol is increasing in Sweden and it is a widening pattern — abusers who use both alcohol and drugs at the same time,” said Hans Laurell, the Swedish Road Administration, according to Dagens Nyheter.

Marijuana and amphetamines most often appear in tests. Tranquilizers are also banned behind the wheel, but are not as easily detected by police.

The Road Administration isn’t sure of how many drivers are drugged while in their cars.

Before 1999, no drug tests were done. Since then, a zero-tolerance policy for driving under the influence of drugs has meant that the number caught driving with drugs in their systems shot up.

Despite the zero tolerance policy, police are not allowed to randomly check drivers for drugs as they are for alcohol. Today, an officer must see erratic driving before legally being able to take a blood test on a driver.

Several companies are working on an instant drug test that police could use on the spot to test for drugs, but the technology isn’t here yet that makes it feasible.

“I am counting on the test being ready in a few years, and then Sweden should start using it as soon as possible,” said Laurell.