Minister Opstelten wants to make drug or alcohol testing possible in cases of violence

In future, people suspected of violent crime will be obliged to cooperate in an investigation to establish whether they have used drugs or alcohol. The findings of the investigation may play a role in the severity of the punishment imposed by the court. The measure is intended to improve the approach to violence committed under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This is set out in a legislative proposal from Minister Opstelten of Security and Justice, which will soon be submitted to various agencies for their opinions.

The Minister wants to reduce violence in order to increase safety in public life and within the domestic environment. The use of drugs or alcohol plays a role in many cases involving violence. Various drugs, such as cocaine, amphetamine and chemical derivatives thereof, such as MDEA and MDMA, have a negative impact on behaviour. Violence committed under the influence of these substances and the consequences are more serious, and it often involves recidivism.

According to Opstelten, the seriousness of the violence, the increased chance of serious injury to the victim and the high rate of recidivism confirm the importance of the legislative proposal. The use of alcohol or drugs will therefore become an independent element that increases the punishment in cases involving violence. In addition, part of the punishment may consist of measures aimed at behavioural change in order to prevent recidivism.

The legislative proposal also regulates that testing for the use of drugs or alcohol may be performed in the event of violence committed in a public place. This is important for combating, for example, football riots or violence in entertainment areas. This concerns not only suspects who have used violence, but also those who have contributed verbally to the threat as part of a group.

The use of narcotics is established by means of a saliva tester or an investigation for ‘psychomotor functions’ and the eye and speech functions. This investigation examines a person's reaction speed and balance functions, the size of the pupils and the reflex of the pupil to light. A breath analysis is performed if there is a suspicion of alcohol use. The results of these tests may be reason to perform further investigations, such as a second breath test or a blood test.