New drug driving law
A new law to make it easier for police to catch and convict drug drivers has taken effect in England and Wales. Motorists caught driving having taken illegal drugs face a criminal record, loss of their licence for at least a year and a fine of up to £5,000. The legislation makes it illegal to drive with certain drugs in the body above specified levels, including eight illegal drugs and eight prescription drugs. The latter eight includes morphine, diazepam, clonazepam, flunitrazepam, lorazepam, oxazepam, temazepam and methadone. Amphetamine used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and Parkinson’s disease is also planned to be included within the offence shortly, subject to Parliamentary approval. People using prescription drugs within recommended amounts will not be penalised.
Police forces will have access to new screening equipment to test suspected drug drivers. Officers can screen drivers for cannabis and cocaine at the roadside. They will be able to test for these and other drugs including ecstasy, LSD, ketamine and heroin at a police station, even if a driver passes the roadside check. New devices that can test for a greater number of drugs at the roadside will be developed in the future. This new law, coupled with the testing kits, is intended to make it quicker to identify those driving under the influence of drugs and help the prosecution of drug drivers. It remains an offence to drive when impaired by any drug, including medical drugs.