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Medical Bureau of Road Safety

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: I was arrested under the Road Traffic Act on suspicion of drink/drug driving and specimen (blood or urine) was taken from me what happens to it?
A: A member of An Garda Síochána will forward your specimen to the MBRS for testing.


Q: I was offered a specimen to take myself when I was arrested which I did not take. What happens to this specimen and can I have access to it?
A: This specimen is sent to the MBRS and is disposed of and is not available.


Q: I was offered a specimen to take myself when I was arrested, and I did take it. What should I do with it?
A: This specimen is available to you to have tested independently much like a B sample in sports drug testing. You must not break the red seal on the container otherwise any subsequent testing will be invalid because the chain of custody will have been broken.


Q: Where can I get this testing done?
A: The MBRS does not recommend any particular laboratory, however it is strongly advised that a laboratory accredited to ISO laboratory testing standards is used. To find such a laboratory it is advised that the Irish National Accreditation Board ( or the United Kingdom Accreditation Service ( be contacted to determine a laboratory which can carry out testing of Road Traffic specimens.


Q: What is the chain of custody?
A: The chain of custody is a process which ensures that the integrity of a specimen is verifiable from specimen provision to analysis. The red seal on the container is part of the chain of custody. If the seal is disturbed the chain of custody is deemed to have been broken.


Q: What testing will be done on my specimen?
A: If you successfully completed an evidential breath test then your specimen will be tested for drugs. If you have not completed an evidential alcohol breath test then your specimen will be tested for alcohol. If the alcohol result is less than or equal to 100mg/100ml in blood or 135mg/100ml in urine then it will be tested for drugs.


Q: How long does it take to test a specimen for alcohol?
A: Alcohol testing and reporting takes about 2 weeks from the time of receipt of the specimen in the Bureau.


Q: How long does it take to test a specimen for drugs?
A: Initial drug testing takes about 2 weeks. If no drugs are found then testing is complete. If drugs are found confirmation testing is carried out and this can take up to 3 months, but some cases may take up to 6 months.


Q: Which drugs will my specimen be tested for?
A: The specimen will be tested for drugs which are known to impair driving.

These include, but are not limited to, the following classes of drugs. Examples of the drugs in each class are included in brackets after the drug:

Cannabis (containing Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol)
Cocaine (containing Cocaine)
Opiates (containing Morphine, Codeine etc.)
Methadone (containing Methadone)
Amphetamines (containing Amphetamine, MDA etc.)
Methamphetamines (containing Methamphetamines, MDMA etc.)
Benzodiazepines (containing Diazepam, Alprazolam etc.)


Q: Why are some over the counter and prescription medicines included in the drugs tested?
A: While most medicines are safe to take there is a risk of impairment with some medicines which are psychoactive and this is the case for opiates, methadone and benzodiazepines. Care should be taken when using these medicines. If you have any questions about whether it is safe to drive when taking your prescribed medicines, you should consult your Doctor and your Pharmacist.


Q: How does the MBRS do its testing?
A: Alcohol is tested in the laboratory using Headspace Gas Chromatography with Flame Ionisation Detection. Drugs are tested using  Liquid Chromatography and Gas Chromatography with Tandem Mass Spectrometry.


Q: How can I be assured that the results from the MBRS are reliable?
A: All of the testing in the MBRS is accredited to ISO 17025 which is the recognised standard for Forensic Toxicological testing.


Q: What happens when testing is finished?
A: A Certificate of Analysis is issued to you and to An Garda Síochána.
You will be issued with any or all the following certificates depending on the results of the testing;
White certificate of analysis for concentration of alcohol.
Green certificate of analysis for concentration of a drug or drugs.
Blue certificate of analysis for presence of a drug or drugs.


Q: I received a white certificate for the concentration for alcohol, should I expect to receive further certificates?
A: When alcohol testing is complete the white certificate is issued. If drugs testing is conducted you will receive either a blue and/or green certificate depending on the results of the drug testing.


Q: I received a green certificate with a drug concentration; what does this mean?
A: If the levels of a drug or its metabolite listed in schedule 1 of the 2016 Road Traffic Act is at or above the level stated in the Act this is an offence under the Road Traffic Act. 


Q: I received only a blue certificate?
A: If you received a blue certificate and this confirms that a drug or drugs were present in the specimen provided by you and there is evidence of impairment, then this is an offence under the Road Traffic Act.


Q: How does the roadside drug testing work?
A: It uses oral fluid (saliva) collected from the mouth and immunoassay which is a type of scientific test to detect the presence of drugs.


Q: What can the roadside drug test detect?
A: It can detect Cannabis, Opiates, Cocaine and Benzodiazepines.


Legal Disclaimer

The contents of this FAQ’s page are of a condensed and general informative nature only. They should not, by themselves, be relied upon in determining legal rights or other decisions under the Road Traffic Acts. Readers and users are advised to verify with their legal advisors any information on which they may wish to rely.