Legislation Introduced To Tackle Drug Driving

Regulations Come Into Force Today

02.03.2015

New legislation has been introduced to tackle the issue of drug-driving in England and Wales, with the regulations making it illegal to drive with certain illegal and prescription drugs in the body above specified levels.

The Government has announced that, from today (March 2nd), new regulations will see motorists facing a criminal record, loss of their driving licence, a driving ban or a fine of up to £5,000 if they are found to have been driving under the influence of drugs.

Under the law, drivers could face prosecution if they are found to have low levels of eight illegal drugs in their systems, as well as higher levels of eight prescription drugs such as morphine and methadone. It will no longer be a legal requirement for prosecutors to show that the person’s driving abilities have been impaired, thus making prosecution more likely if a person is found to have above the proscribed limits (as with alcohol).

Anyone using prescription drugs within their recommended guidelines will not face any charges. Alongside the introduction of the legislation, police forces are now being given access to new screening equipment to test suspected drug drivers.

Road Safety Minister Robert Goodwill said: “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 change in the law has been welcomed by road safety organisation, Brake, who have recommended that those taking prescription drugs read the guidance and labels carefully and seek medical advice if unsure.

Expert Opinion
The introduction of these new powers is a very welcome step forward and decisive action by the government to tackle the important issue of driving after taking drugs.

"Driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs is incredibly dangerous, yet there are numerous cases we are involved in where people have suffered serious, life-changing injuries as a result of motorists choosing to get behind the wheel when it is not safe for them to do so.

"This new legislation makes it clear that anyone found to be driving having taken certain proscribed or prescription drugs will face significant consequences and we hope that the regulations prove to be a significant deterrent. Safety should be the priority of all road users and it is vital that all motorists take their responsibilities very seriously."
Neil Whiteley, Partner