Drug-Driving – new law starts today

New drug-driving laws have started today that, for the first time, allow people to be prosecuted for driving under the influence of drugs across England and Wales if they exceed new legal limits.

The levels set for the drugs, which include cannabis, heroin and cocaine, mean there is essentially a zero tolerance for drivers having these in their system. Police officers will now be able to screen for these drugs at the roadside using “drugalysers”. These are similar to the use of breathalysers when testing for alcohol. They will also be able to check for other drugs such as ecstasy, ketamine and LSD, at a police station, even if a driver passes a roadside check.

This change to the law means that police officers will no longer have to prove that a person’s driving ability was impaired, only that they had an illegal level of a substance in their body.

The list of illegal drugs

  • Benzoylecgonine 50µg/L
  • Cocaine 10µg/L
  • Delta-9-tetrahydrocannibinol (cannabis) 2µg/L
  • Ketamine 20µg/L
  • Lysergic acid diethylamide 1µg/L
  • Methylamphetamine 10µg/L
  • MDMA 10µg/L
  • 6-monoacetylmorphine (heroin) 5µg/L

Prescribed drugs and the drug-driving law

There are currently nine prescription drugs that have also had a legal limit per litre of blood set and these are:

  • Amphetamine 250µg/L
  • Clonazepam 50µg/L
  • Diazepam 550µg/L
  • Flunitrazepam 300µg/L
  • Lorazepam 100µg/L
  • Methadone 500µg/L
  • Morphine 80µg/L
  • Oxazepam 300µg/L
  • Temazepam 1,000µg/L

If you’re taking any of these drugs then you should do so only as advised by your doctor and you should only drive if you’ll remain with the limits. You will not be penalised for using prescription drugs within the legal limits.

What are the penalties for drug-driving?

The penalties for drug-driving are the same as for drink-driving. A conviction for drug-driving will see you get a minimum 12-month driving ban, a criminal record, and a fine of £5,000.