Leading road safety charity the Institute of Advanced Motorists has described the introduction of new drug-driving laws as ‘a big step forward for road safety.’
There will be a new offence of driving while over the prescribed limit of certain drugs as of today, 2nd March 2015. For the first time ever, limits have been set for illegal drugs including heroin, cocaine, LSD and cannabis, as well as a number of medicinal drugs including morphine and methadone.
The new procedure will bring detection of drug driving into line with the widely understood drink driving enforcement procedure. Police will no longer need to prove that driving was impaired. They will simply obtain a blood sample and show that any of the specified drugs are present above the prescribed limit.
Roadside drugalysers (or an impairment test) can be used in the first instance to test drivers – all this is broadly similar to the way drink/driving processes have operated in the past.
Check your prescription medicine carefully
The IAM added that in the case of prescribed and over-the-counter medication users should read the accompanying information very carefully, to see if the prescribed dosage will impair your ability to control your vehicle.
Estimates suggest as many as 200 drug driving related deaths occur every year in the British Isles. Surveys suggest that one in ten young male drivers have driven under the influence of cannabis, and 370,000 have driven under the influence of class A drugs.
Sarah Sillars, IAM chief executive officer, said: “The new law is a real step in the right direction for the eradication of driving under the influence of drugs. 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.
“Many drugs impair the senses to a massive degree – if you are not in full control of your vehicle, you become a severe danger to yourself, your passengers and other road users. It is a self-centred action and those committing it are now being punished with the full force of the law. Now at last, there is a real deterrent.”
She added: “We also urge drivers and riders not to forget how prescription drugs can affect your ability to control a vehicle. Don’t ignore the instructions and think you know better.”