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Drugs and Driving

drug driving patient leaflet.pdf

New Regulations from 2 March 2015

A new driving offence was announced by the government in January 2012 with regard to driving with a specific controlled drug in the body above the accepted limit for that drug. The new offence is to reduce the wasted time, expense and effort involved for the police and the courts when prosecutions fail because of the difficulty of proving that a driver is impaired by a particular drug.

The drug driving consultation put forward proposals on the drugs to be included in the legislation and the limits to be specified. The proposals follow a report by a panel of medical and scientific experts which provided advice to the government on drug driving. The government has published the summary of responses to the consultation which concluded there is support for the government’s proposals. We will therefore be taking a zero tolerance approach to 8 drugs most associated with illegal use and a road safety risk based approach to 8 drugs most associated with medical uses. This approach will be included in regulations to be presented to Parliament.

The recommended limits for 16 different drugs have now been approved with 8 generally prescription and 8 illicit drugs added into new regulations that will come into force on 2 March 2015 in England and Wales.

How will the new laws affect you if you’re taking prescription medicines?

You should continue to take your medicine(s) as advised by your doctor or healthcare professional, or according to the patient information leaflet that comes with the medicine.

The new law will give the police powers to test and arrest drivers who are suspected of driving having taken certain controlled drugs in excess of specified levels.

Unlike the existing ‘impairment’ offence, the new law provides a medical defence if you’re taking your medicine in accordance with instructions – either from a healthcare professional or printed in the accompanying leaflet – provided, of course, you’re not impaired.

If you’re driving and you’re on prescription medicine, it may therefore be helpful for you to keep some evidence of this with you in case you’re stopped by the police.

See also the GOV.UK pages on drug-driving and the law

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