SOUTH Yorkshire Police officers are now carrying out new roadside drug tests.

The new legislation, which came into force on March 2, means that the offence carries the same penalty as drinking whilst under the influence of alcohol.

Officers now have drug-testing equipment which can screen drivers for illegal substances.

Glen Suttonwood, chief inspector for roads policing, said: "Stopping a driver who you suspect may be under the influence of alcohol is relatively simple to determine either immediately by the smell or by using an alcometer kit.

"However to test for drugs, we have only been able to rely upon impairment tests, which include asking the driver to complete a series of tests and questions, for example walking in a straight line, to assess their capability to drive.

"If there's a suspicion they may be under the influence, the driver is arrested and a blood test required at the police station to determine whether there is a drug present in their system."

But the new roadside kits will now be used alongside impairment tests, enabling officers to test drivers for drugs at the scene.

As with alcometer kits that detect levels of alcohol, the drug kits will highlight within seconds as to whether there is a drug in the driver's system, and if they're running the incredibly dangerous risk of driving while under the influence.

"We're determined to make South Yorkshire's roads safer and protect drivers in our county from irresponsible and thoughtless actions of others," Mr Suttonwood added.