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What The New Drug Driving Laws Will Mean For You

By raccars Published

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This week sees the introduction of a new law against drug driving in the UK, accompanied by roadside testing for drug taking. The law is designed to catch drivers using illegal drugs but some prescription medications are also affected by the new legislation.

The police will be using a 'drugalyser' machine to conduct on the spot testing for cannabis and cocaine, while other illegal substances can be detected from a sample given at a police station. The new law has been introduced to help police more quickly identify and prosecute those driving while under the influence of drugs. Until now officers were obliged to follow a process of arresting those under suspicion of drug driving and take them back to a police station, where medical supervision was required to conduct a blood test. A number of suspects would delay by refusing to give samples based upon their religious beliefs or a medical condition, giving themselves time to allow drugs to leave their system.

Those caught driving after taking drugs under the new legislation will face a similar penalty to drunk drivers. At the very least offenders will receive a one year driving ban and a criminal record, accompanied by a fine of up to £5,000.

Illegal drugs such as heroin, ketamine, LSD and ecstasy, can all be detected via a test at police stations at this stage, but more sophisticated 'drugalyser' machines are on the way, to enable roadside testing for other drugs apart from cannabis and cocaine.

Apart from illegal drugs, a number of prescription drugs can leave drivers open to prosecution if they are abused, including morphine for pain relief, clonazepam, diazepam, flunitrazepam, lorazepam, oxazepam, temazepam and methadone. These are often used to treat anxiety or drug addiction, and while legal limits are set higher than the levels usually prescribed, the law is designed to catch abusers of prescription drugs. Amphetamine is to be added to the list shortly, after Parliamentary approval is granted, which can be used to treat Parkinson's disease and ADHD.

Road safety charity, THINK!, Has conducted research revealing that one in five people knows somebody who has driven under the influence of illegal drugs, but half of survey participants claimed they would feel uncomfortable asking a driver if they had taken illegal drugs before getting behind the wheel. More than half of those who admitted to drug driving claimed they felt safe to drive.

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