Drug driving law takes effect
By: Dave Robbins
16 March 2015
With effect from 2nd March 2015, drivers in England and Wales will be prosecuted if they’re found to be driving with any of eight illegal or eight prescription drugs in their system.
Similar to drink driving, the new law sets certain limits for drug use. Drivers taking a roadside ‘drugalyser’ saliva test and found to be above the limit face a year-long driving ban and possibly jail and a fine of up to £5,000.
Key to the new law is that the police will no longer have to prove impaired driving ability – simply being over the limit will be sufficient to secure a conviction. The list includes: heroin, cocaine, LSD and cannabis.
Drug driving is possibly more widespread than many think. A 2014 survey by road safety charity ‘Brake’ found 3% of all drivers admitted to having driven with drugs in their system; one in ten young male drivers admitted to having driven whilst under the influence of cannabis. Data released by BioClinics, a company which conducts random drug tests on workers in the North West, reveals that 30% of lorry drivers tested were found to have drugs such as cannabis or cocaine in their system.
There are no definite figures on the number of road accident deaths in which drug driving was a factor, but experts suggest it could be as many as 200.
Drivers who take medicinal drugs which contain morphine and methadone are potentially captured by the new law. Both the RAC and Institute of Advanced Motorists are recommending a “Don’t risk it, check it” policy for those who aren’t sure. Their advice is to talk to their doctor and keep a copy of their prescription at all times.
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