Are you safe to drive? Drug-Driving Laws
New regulations came into force in March 2015 relating to driving whilst under the influence of drugs. There is now a zero tolerance approach to illegal drugs. In addition 8 prescribed medications are included in the new law, which has come as a surprise to many. So, are you safe to drive?
How has the law changed?
The new law has made it easier for police to convict a driver of drug-driving. Previously Police officers had to prove a person suspected of driving under the influence of drugs was too impaired to drive. Now, police have to do is prove there are traces of banned drugs in a drivers system, regardless of whether your driving has been impaired.
Zero tolerance to illegal drugs
The New rules set legal limits for illegal and legal drugs for the first time. There will be a zero tolerance to illegal drugs. The allowable levels of illegal drug found in a persons systems has been set so low that even a trace amount can result in a prosecution.
Cannabis and cocaine will be tested for at the roadside with new drugaylser kits the Police will be equipped with. Even if the roadside test is passed, Police officers can still choose to test the suspected drug driver at the station. At the station police will be able to test for the full range of banned substances now in force, these include; cannabis, heroin, LSD, ketamine, benzoylecgonine, lysergic acid diethylamide, methylamphetamine and ecstasy.
Which prescribed medications are included in the drug driving law?
Most people will expect that as illegal drugs it will also be illegal to drive whilst under the influence of them. The piece of these new regulations that has taken people by surprise, is that there are also 9 prescription drugs on the list of substances. These include medications used to control panic disorders and seizures/spasms, sedatives and medications used for pain relief.
|Medication||Limit in blood (µg/L)|
What should I do if I take any of these medications?
The limits set for these medications is just above the normal prescibed dosage. The advice to motorists who may be taking these medications is; as long as you are taking them as prescribed you should be fine. These medications have been included as they are often the ones that are misused and could then adversly afffect driving ability. Motorists are advised to keep proof of use of any medications to show police if they are stopped.
What are the penalties for being caught drug-driving?
A recent THINK! Survey revealed that 49% of people would feel uncomfortable asking a driver if they were under the influence of drugs. Of those drivers who admitted drug-driving 60% revealed they had previously driven whilst unsure whether they were still under the influence of drugs or not.
For those that are caught the penalties are tough. A driver caught drug driving could face:
- A 12 month driving ban
- A criminal record
- A fine of up to £5,000
- A possible 6 month stay in prison.
A drug driving conviction will remain on your driving licence for 11 years. This can lead to increased insurance premiums, an effect on job opportunities and could affect your ability to drive in other countries.
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2 March 2015
Written by Natalie Faughy