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Government drug driving panel to be established

By: Elizabeth Smythe
10 January 2012

A new panel is to be created by the government and industry experts to review drug-driving laws, TRL.co.uk reports.

The panel will comprise academics and scientists whose job it is to advise Department of Transport ministers on the practicalities of making it against the law to drive with narcotics in the bloodstream.

Such news should be welcomed by those with driving jobs, who practice safe, responsible motoring and want to keep dangerous motorists off the roads.

The panel will investigate drugs including cannabis, opiates and amphetamines to assess how the "impairing effect" they generate compares with alcohol.

Potential new legislation could be introduced as a result, which could encompass roadside testing and the establishing of 'levels' for illicit and medicinal drugs, according to The Guardian.

Currently, while motorists can be charged for driving under the influence of drugs, few are actually prosecuted owing to the difficulty in obtaining proof. As yet there is no roadside testing kit, thus the police must make a subjective decision based on standard impairment tests. 

The timely announcement coincides with a call from road safety charity, Brake, who want to government to tackle the loopholes that exist in current driving laws.

Their request follows the revelation that 11 per cent of 17 to 25 year olds have driven after taking drugs, a statistic uncovered by a Direct Line survey.

Explaining their aim, road safety minister Mike Penning said: "The panel will look at how such an offence could be defined as well as considering whether it is possible to set levels for the impairing effects of specific drugs."

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