Israel Police Can Now Do Saliva Test to Check Drivers for Drug Use

The Knesset has passed the law amid concerns that the legalization of marijuana will increase Israelis’ use of the substance before driving

Israeli police, 2014
David Bachar

The Knesset has approved a bill sponsored by Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan that lets the police carry out saliva tests on drivers suspected of drug use.

As part of the decriminalization of marijuana use, Erdan wanted to allow the police to conduct such tests to make sure that the reform did not increase Israelis' use of the substance before driving.

If the saliva test appears to indicate drug use, the driver will be sent for a blood and urine test.

In many Western countries, the police already have such authority. “As part of the cannabis reform, I insisted that the police receive the tools to ensure that drivers who have used drugs don’t get on the road,” Erdan said.

“I congratulate the finance committee chairman, and I believe that because of this authority the police will be able to create more significant deterrence and enforcement that will help prevent avoidable deaths on the roads.”

On Sunday, a Be’er Sheva court extended the detention of a driver suspected of being under the influence of marijuana during an October 30 crash near the Dead Sea in which a family of eight was killed. The suspect will be held in custody through November 11.

The charges against the driver – in which eight members of the Atar family from the West Bank settlement of Psagot were killed – are expected to include obstruction of justice, manslaughter, driving under the influence and passing another vehicle illegally.