Drug-drive regulations updated
New drug-drive regulations have come into effect today to combat the use of illegal drugs by drivers.
However it’s not just illegal drugs that are included in the new regulations with prescription drugs also regulated for the first time.
Under the new rules, illegal drugs including cannabis, cocaine and ketamine now have legal limits set.
And these legal limits will run alongside existing laws which could see motorists handed a fine of up to £5,000, up to six months in prison and a driving ban of at least 12 months if found driving under the influence of drugs.
Eight illegal drugs in total are included under the new regulations and all have low limits. Drug-driving offences will also remain on your driving licence as endorsements for 11 years.
Eight prescription drugs, including morphine, diazepam and methadone, will all have higher limits that will only be breached if users exceed prescribed amounts.
Users of prescription drugs that are now included in the new laws should seek advice from their doctor or pharmacy if they are unsure whether they will be breaking the law.
Police forces have been given new screening equipment to test any suspected motorists for cannabis and cocaine at the roadside.
Other drugs, including ecstasy, heroin and LSD can all be tested at a police station even if a motorist passes the roadside test.
Robert Goodwill, Road Safety minister, said: “This new law will save lives. We know driving under the influence of drugs is extremely dangerous; it devastates families and ruins lives.
“The government’s message is clear – if you take drugs and drive, you are endangering yourself and others and you risk losing your licence and a conviction.”
The new regulations have come in light of recent research by THINK! road safety, which revealed that 20 per cent of motorists knew somebody who had driven after taking illegal drugs.
Police force holding fire
Greater Manchester Police will not implement the new laws for a period of two weeks as it trains its officers and examines the legal implications of the testing.
Road safety reactions
The news has been widely applauded by road safety groups across England and Wales where the new law has been enforced.
The Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) described the new laws as a ‘big step forward for road safety’.
Sarah Sillars, IAM chief executive officer, said: “The IAM has always stated there should be no doubt to drivers and riders as to what the correct course of action should be; no-one should be driving while under the influence of alcohol or any illegal drugs in your system.”
Brake, another leading road safety group in the UK, carried out its own research into drug-drivers and found that 1m drivers have driven while on drugs over the past 12 months.
Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive at Brake, said: “Drug driving wrecks lives, and it is a crime for which there is no excuse. We are delighted that our long-running campaign for a tougher law is finally seeing success.
“We believe the government is doing the right thing by taking a zero tolerance approach; we hope this will make it clear that driving on any amount of drugs won’t be tolerated.”
Eight prescription drugs included in new laws
Morphine used to treat pain – 80 micrograms per litre of blood.
Diazepam – 550.
Clonazepam – 50.
Flunitrazepam – 300.
Lorazepam – 100
Oxazepam – 300.
Temazepam used to treat anxiety or inability to sleep – 1,000.
Methadone used to treat drug addiction – 500.
*Amphetamine used to treat deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and Parkinson’s disease is planned to be included in the new laws, subject to parliamentary approval.
Eight illegal drugs included in new laws
Cocaine – 10 micrograms per litre of blood.
Cannabis – 2.
MDMA (ecstasy) – 10.
Ketamine – 20.
Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) – 1.
Methylamphetamine – 10.
6-monoacetylmorphine (heroin) – 5.
Benzoylecgonine – 50.
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