New regulations in England and Wales mean that drug-drivers could face prosecution if they exceed set limits for the presence of eight illegal substances and eight prescription drugs.

The new rules are to supplement the existing law, under which it is an offence to drive when impaired by any drug. The penalties remain the same; they can include a fine of up to £5,000, up to six months in prison and minimum driving ban of one year. The addition of specific limits will provide an easier to interpret indication of unacceptable levels of a number of drugs while driving.

Drug Driving Limits for Illegal Drugs and Prescription Drugs

The new regulations set low levels for the illegal drugs, with higher levels for prescription drugs, including morphine and methadone. However, those using prescription drugs with recommended amounts will not be penalised.

As for illegal drugs, police will be able to make use of new ‘drugalysers’ to screen for cannabis and cocaine at the roadside. The devices can be used to detect up to six drug groups but it has only been approved for these two most common substances abused by offenders so far.

Officers can test for the other drugs such as ecstasy, ketamine and heroin at a police station, even if a driver passes initial checks, which includes testing a driver’s ability to perform basic coordination exercises at the roadside.

A government road safety THINK! Campaign has been launched to coincide with the new legislation. Road Safety Minister, Robert Goodwill said: “This new law will save lives. We know driving under the influence of drugs is extremely dangerous, it devastates families and ruins lives.” He added: “The government’s message is clear – if you take drugs and drive, you are endangering yourself and others and you risk losing your license and a conviction.”

The new campaign reminds of the possible penalties but also of the further reaching consequences of drug driving. On the THINK! Website they state that consequences of a drug driving conviction include:

  • Job loss
  • Loss of independence
  • The shame of having a criminal record
  • Increase in car insurance costs
  • Trouble getting in to countries like the USA

This portion of the campaign enlightens people of the consequences their actions could have on themselves, but the real victory will be in the deterring of drunk driving to prevent unnecessary deaths on the road.

Drug Driving Campaigners Welcome New Limits

The new rules have been welcomed by other campaigns such as Lillian’s law, which was set up by the mother of a 14-year-old girl who was killed by a speeding driver on cannabis. Lillian Groves died outside her home in New Addington, Surrey in June 2010, with the driver given an eight-month prison sentence.

Natasha Groves, Lillian’s mother voiced her support for the new regulations. She said: “The legislation is now up to date and fit for purpose. Having to prove impairment will no longer be a matter of judgment, but a testable fact.”

If you think you or someone you care about may be taking dangerous levels of drugs – whether you are worried that it may impair driving putting many people at risk or for any reason – then AlphaBiolabs can provide drug testing and the answers you need.