Friday 22 November 2019

Youngsters have no idea when they are safe to drive after ecstasy use

Photo: DEA

Most drivers between 18 and 24 who have used ecstasy do not allow sufficient time for the drug to wear off before they get behind the wheel, a survey shows.

Youth organisation TeamAlert conducted the survey as part of its campaign to discourage teens from driving under the influence of drugs.

The time youngsters should wait before they drive is 16 to 40 hours after taking a single ecstasy pill but most wait no longer than eight, the survey showed.

Of the 1,460 youngsters questioned, 61% said they would be at the legal limit of 50 mgs per litre of blood after 16 hours. An average pill contains 200 mgs of mdma per litre of blood. Of the 10% who said they would drive after using the drug, 90% thought they were ok to drive after fewer than 16 hours.

The effects of the drug may have worn off but its use will show up in a saliva test, the organisation warned. ‘It all depends on the strength of the pill, your weight and whether you have food in your stomach. That is why the time range is so wide,’ spokesperson Hannah Hamans told broadcaster NOS.

Some 1,250 motorists were caught driving under the influence of drugs between July 2017 and June 2018, 60% of whom were aged between 18 and 30. The drug of choice for most was cannabis, followed by amphetamines and cocaine.

In a reaction, the Trimbos Institute said people often have no idea how long they should wait. ‘We get phone calls to our drugs infoline all the time from people wanting to know when it is safe to drive after taking ecstasy,’ a spokesperson told NOS.

The fine for drug use behind the wheel is €850 and a driving ban of six months. A combination of drugs and alcohol will lead to a community service sentence.

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