Hong Kong police will start using a new roadside test from midnight on Thursday for catching those driving under the influence of drugs.

The rapid oral fluid test can detect the presence of six illicit drugs – heroin, ketamine, methamphetamine, cannabis, cocaine and Ecstasy – and will speed up and strengthen law enforcement in this area, according to Ng Hoi-wai, acting senior superintendent of the traffic branch.

He said the previous method of drug screening on roadsides used to take up to half an hour, while the new device produced results in eight to 10 minutes.

The traditional method was carried out by checking drivers’ pupils for dilation, among other observation techniques.

The new device – a 13cm-long stick-shaped instrument – costs HK$380 (US$49) each.

If a driver fails the oral fluid test, he will be taken to hospital for blood or urine tests for further investigation.

Ng said the rapid oral fluid test produced results that were more than 80 per cent accurate.

Officers from the city’s five regional traffic units had to attend a one-day workshop to learn how to use the new device.

In Hong Kong, driving under the influence of drugs carries a maximum penalty of three years in jail, a HK$25,000 fine and disqualification from driving under the Road Traffic Ordinance.

Police handled 18 drug-impaired driving cases in 2020, eight in 2019 and six in 2018.