RAC Cars News


Drug Drive Limits to be Introduced in The UK

By raccars Published

After decades spent cracking down on drink drivers, UK police are now to be given the power to arrest and prosecute drivers abusing drugs, with the introduction of the UK's first anti-drug driving legislation.

The new law involves not only a zero tolerance approach to illegal substances but also to the abuse of prescription drugs. Those found to violate substance limits will face a twelve month driving ban, six months in jail and a fine of up to £5,000. Along with stronger enforcement measures, detection methods will be improved with the use of new 'drugalyser' equipment, which will allow on the spot measurements.

Drivers with even a trace of illegal substances in their system will be prosecuted, along with those found to be violating recommended levels of prescription drugs. The government is keen to reassure motorists that those taking drugs which have been legally prescribed, will not be criminalised and the threshold will be set to allow legitimate dosing levels. However, drivers who exceed the medically prescribed dosage or drive against doctors' advice, will face prosecution.

The new legislation enables police to stop and arrest drivers on the spot, if the drugalyser reveals illegal consumption and a new offence category has been created as part of the Crime and Courts Bill, currently facing Parliamentary approval. The Bill will require the Secretary of State for Transport to set legal limits for each substance included in the legislation.

Zero tolerance limits will be applied to cannabis, MDMA or ecstasy, ketamine (anaesthetic abused by clubbers), BZE benzoylecgonin (a by product of cocaine), methamphetamine, LSD and 6-MAM or heroin and diamorphine. Along with those eight controlled drugs, there will be consumption limits set for eight other medically prescribed drugs: methadone, morphine, diazepam or Valium, oxazepam (an anti-anxiety medication), flunitrazepam or Rohypnol (an anti-insomnia medication), clonazepam and lorazepam (anti-anxiety treatments and temazepam (used to treat insomnia and anxiety).

Amphetamine, taken to counteract attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in medications such as Ritalin, is not currently on the list but ministers are considering taking a position given its frequent abuse as 'speed'.

Motoring and road safety organisations have welcomed the new law, citing drug driving as a serious social menace. While drug drivers are estimated to be responsible for hundreds of deaths every year, very few are ever prosecuted as a result. The new legislation is currently undergoing the consultation process and is likely to become law next year.

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