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Salivary Tests and Road Safety: Driving under Drugs in Europe

New measures proposed by the French Minister of the Interior

The French legislative landscape regarding driving under the influence of drugs could well evolve, particularly following the recent case involving comedian Pierre Palmade. The Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin, expressed his intention to toughen sanctions in this regard. Currently, French law provides for a loss of six points on the driving license, a fine of up to 4,500 euros and a maximum prison sentence of two years. However, the minister now proposes an automatic withdrawal of 12 points from the license for any person driving under the influence of drugs , without the need for repeat offenses.

The government is considering a significant increase in saliva drug screening checks for the year 2024, thus strengthening road safety measures and the fight against driving under the influence of drugs.

Comparison of sanctions in Europe

As France considers strengthening its sanctions, it is interesting to compare French legislation to that of its European neighbors.

Zero tolerance in Southern Europe: Severe penalties for driving under the influence of drugs

In southern European countries, a zero-tolerance policy on driving under the influence of drugs is strictly enforced. In Italy, for example, as soon as a driver tests positive, sanctions are immediately activated. Offenders are fined between 1,500 and 6,000 euros, with a maximum prison sentence of up to one year.

The same approach is taken in Spain, even after the decriminalization of cannabis. In the event of a positive test, drivers are liable to a fine of 1,000 euros and the loss of six points out of the twelve on their driving license. Additionally, a prison sentence may be imposed if the driver is clearly under the influence of the narcotic substance at the time of the test, demonstrating the severity of penalties in these countries.

Northern Europe: THC Thresholds and Sanctions for Drugged Driving

In Nordic countries such as Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands, legislation on driving under the influence of drugs is also strict but differentiated. In Germany, the threshold for THC allowed in the blood is set at 0.5 nanograms per milliliter for cannabis . Exceeding this threshold exposes the driver to substantial fines and periods of driving ban. In Belgium and the Netherlands, this threshold is slightly higher, set at 1 nanogram per milliliter of blood for cannabis . Penalties for exceeding this threshold can be even more severe for repeat offenses, with higher fines and extended driving ban periods. The difference in thresholds and sanctions between these countries illustrates the diversity of legislative approaches in Northern Europe regarding driving under the influence of drugs .

United Kingdom: High tolerance threshold for THC but rigorous sanctions

In the United Kingdom, authorities have set a tolerance threshold for THC in the blood at 2 nanograms per milliliter. This policy allows a higher level of presence of the substance than in other European countries. However, despite this higher threshold, the sanctions remain strict. In the event of a positive test , the driver faces a driving ban of at least one year, accompanied by a minimum fine of 5,000 pounds sterling. In addition, he risks a prison sentence. This measure aims to deter all forms of driving under the influence of drugs, thus placing emphasis on road safety and the protection of road users.


Driving under the influence of drugs represents a crucial issue for road safety on a European scale. Faced with this problem, France is at a turning point, considering strengthening its sanctions to dissuade drivers from getting behind the wheel after using drugs. However, this initiative is part of a heterogeneous European legal landscape, where legislation varies significantly from one country to another.

While some countries, such as Italy and Spain, take a zero-tolerance approach to driving under the influence of drugs, imposing harsh penalties from the first positive test , others, such as Germany and the United Kingdom, set higher tolerance thresholds for THC in the blood, but still apply rigorous penalties if these thresholds are exceeded.

In this complex context, the harmonization of legislation and the establishment of uniform dissuasive measures could help to reduce the risk of accidents and promote responsible driving on European roads. It is essential that Member States work closely together to implement effective policies to combat drug driving , to ensure the safety of all road users.

Finally, let us emphasize the crucial importance of the preventive use of saliva drug screening tests before getting behind the wheel, not only in France but also throughout Europe. These tools offer a proactive solution to prevent positive checks , thereby strengthening road safety and contributing to the promotion of responsible driving on a continental scale.

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