With effect from the 2nd March 2015 a new driving offence was introduced. Previously “drug driving” legislation made it an offence for a person to drive or attempt to drive a vehicle if they are unfit to do so through drugs.
The Drug Driving (Specified Limits) (England and Wales) Regulations 2014 introduced a new offence of driving, attempting to drive or being in charge of a motor vehicle on the road or other public place with amounts over and above specified limits of 16 controlled drugs in a driver’s blood.
The key impact of this legislation is that if a driver is found to have an amount of one or more of the specified drugs over the prescribed limits they can be convicted on that basis. There is no need to prove any evidence of impairment and without any need to prove a link between any impairment and drug use.
The problem with this new legislation is that some of the drugs that are prohibited are included in medicines which are either legally prescribed or available over the counter. These include such things as Clonazepam, Diazepam, Ketamine, Lorazepam, Methadone, Morphine to name but a few.
The incorporation of these legally prescribed drugs into this legislation means that drivers will be at a risk of inadvertently breaking the new law when taking certain commonly used medicines.
Police forces have been issued with mobile screening devices (a drugaliser?) and any roadside testing, as with alcohol breathalyser testing will be followed up by blood and urine tests at a police station.
Because of the drugs being commonly used in medicines, drivers have been advised to keep evidence of legally prescribed medicines with them to speed up any investigations process should they be stopped.
Obviously with drink driving, the consequences of getting these issues wrong can be stark and may lead to periods of imprisonment; a fine and a minimum of twelve months’ disqualification.
If you are using any medication which may contain any of the active ingredients advised of under new legislation then we suggest that you make sure that you have details of it for any roadside testing.
If you have been prosecuted under this legislation please contact us for advice on 0151 236 6620.