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Drug Driving – The Biggest Change in Decades

Written by: Alan Baker 12th February, 2015

The UK Government will achieve one of its long-term goals on 2nd March 2015 when legislation comes into force which, for the first time, will introduce statutory limits for those driving after having consumed a prescribed licit drug or an illicit drug.

In its simplest form, it will mean that the commonly abused illegal drugs such as cannabis and cocaine will have relatively low legal cut-offs whilst commonly used, medicinally prescribed drugs such as diazepam will have thresholds that are above what would be expected in someone taking the substance at a so-called therapeutic level. So far, so good.

However, there are a number of potential complications:

Whilst there will be “roadside” tests for cannabis and cocaine, the police will have to wait for the results from laboratory tests before they know if an individual is over the new limit;

There will still be a need for field impairment tests to be conducted on a driver, with all of the inherent problems associated with subjective testing;

No limits will be in place for urine samples leaving open the possibility that individuals will “elect” to have a urine sample taken because of a suggested aversion to needles;

There are many thousands of people taking medication which falls into the list of prescribed but legislated substances. How many of these individuals could face prosecution because they had one too many sleeping tablets by mistake.

The Government must be applauded for taking road safety to another level but there only time will tell if it makes the Prosecutor’s job easier or, more importantly, makes our roads safer.



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