Drug driving laws have changed – Here’s what you need to know

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Police Car

New legislation introduced on Monday 2nd March means drug driving offences are now treated in the same legal manner as drink driving offences.

The legislation change has been enforced as an increasing number of drivers use UK roads whilst under the influence of drugs. This is seen as the biggest shake-up in legislation covering this area in 85 years.


What do these changes mean?

Police officers will now be able to test for exceeded limits for eight illegal drugs (including cocaine and cannabis) and eight prescription drugs (including morphine and methadone) at the roadside and police stations. Legislation changes have introduced low limits for illegal drugs and high limits for prescription drugs which drivers mustn’t exceed when in control of a vehicle.


What if the levels are exceeded?

Any driver found to exceed the legal limits for either prescription or illegal drugs can face a fine of up to £5,000, up to 6 months in prison and receive a driving ban of at least one year.

Legal drug limits (prescription and otherwise) can be seen here. People exposed to drugs exceeding the limit can in cases remain over the limit for up to 36 hours.


How do the police test for drug driving?

Drug analysing devices have been dispatched to police forces across the country with officers receiving training on how to use these. Early reports have seen delays of up to two weeks for some constabularies in actioning this legislation change.

Officers will use the analysing devices on drivers who they suspect may be over the legal drug limit. These devices can accurately detect for cocaine and cannabis at the roadside. Illegal drugs including ecstasy, LSD, ketamine and heroin can be tested for at a police station, even if the driver has successfully passed a roadside check.

Any driver suspected of drug driving will be asked to undertake impairment tests to assess their capability to drive.

Drug testing stick

Why has this law change occurred?

The family of Lillian Groves has been campaigning extensively to change the law and give the police greater power to catch drug drivers. Lillian was killed aged 14 in 2011 at the hands of John Page, who was found guilty of driving carelessly with cannabis in his system.


What does the future hold for drug driving?

Drug driving legislation is fresh and requires police forces to be trained to successfully catch and convict those driving whilst exceeding legal drug limits.  Research is on-going with drug analysis technologies developing to test and detect a larger variety of drugs at the roadside.


Your responsibilities

As a driver using UK roads you are required to be assured that your driving ability is not impaired. Anybody who takes prescription drugs is recommended to carry proof ready to provide at the roadside. If you have taken drugs and feel that your driving abilities have been compromised don’t drive. It couldn’t be simpler!




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