The number of people in Brussels caught driving under the influence of drugs has more than doubled since police introduced a new saliva-based test.
The Brussels-Ixelles police zone said that the number of drug-related driving offences ballooned during the first half of 2020, compared to the same period last year.
During the first semester of the year, the police zone said that they caught 392 people driving while drugged — more than doubling the 143 offenders caught red-handed in the first six months of 2019.
The surge further represents the most striking contrast noted by federal police’s records of general traffic offences, Bruzz reports.
The increase comes after the police zone swapped out the commonly used blood-based drug tests for ones using saliva instead, which a spokesperson said have helped them more efficiently catch offenders.
“Before we had to work with a blood test. We had to turn to a doctor and that took much more time,” spokesperson Olivier Slosse said. “The saliva test is a much simpler and faster procedure.”
The increase in drug offences also comes during a year in which traffic in and around the Brussels capital dipped significantly amid the coronavirus lockdown and the massive shift into teleworking spurred by the pandemic.
The police zone, competent for the municipalities of Brussels 1000 and Ixelles, also recorded an increase in the number of drivers caught speeding, which went from 142,730 in the first half of 2019 to 173,918 during the first half of 2020.
The Brussels Times