This was introduced from March 2nd 2015. I was prompted to write this after seeing a patient who was distressed because of the behaviour of many of her work colleagues who use cocaine regularly and often prone to get into rages as she said, ‘ just like road rage’.
Any exposure to illegal drugs will render people over the limit and will leave them over the limit for up to 36hrs. Drivers face prosecution if they exceed limits set for the presence of eight illegal drugs, including cannabis and cocaine, which can be tested using a “drugalyser” at the roadside. Police officers will also be able to test for these and other drugs including ecstasy, LSD, ketamine and heroin at a police station, even if a driver passes the roadside check.
Also, there is a list of legitimately prescribed drugs on the list shown later in this article. For those people who use prescription drugs “the onus is on the individual to assure themselves that their driving ability is not impaired”.
If you need advice about this please ask your doctor. Advice I give is:-
* You should not drive if you feel dizzy, clumsy or sleepy
* You should be particularly careful when you first start or increase the dose of certain drugs, because side effects are often worse around this time.
* Take care if you have started a different medication which might interact with your existing drugs.
The new regulations set low levels for the eight illegal drugs, with higher levels set for eight prescription drugs, including morphine and methadone.
Drugs and driving: the law
It’s illegal to drive if either:
* you’re unfit to do so because you’re on legal or illegal drugs
* you have certain levels of illegal drugs in your blood (even if they haven’t affected your driving)
Legal drugs are prescription or over-the-counter medicines. If you’re taking them and not sure if you should drive, talk to your doctor, pharmacist or healthcare professional.
The police can stop you and make you do a ‘field impairment assessment’ if they think you’re on drugs. This is a series of tests, eg asking you to walk in a straight line. They can also use a roadside drug kit to screen for cannabis and cocaine.
If they think you’re unfit to drive because of taking drugs, you’ll be arrested and will have to take a blood or urine test at a police station.
You could be charged with a crime if the test shows you’ve taken drugs.
It’s illegal in England and Wales to drive with legal drugs in your body if it impairs your driving.
It’s an offence to drive if you have over the specified limits of certain drugs in your blood and you haven’t been prescribed them.
Talk to your doctor about whether you should drive if you’ve been prescribed any of the following drugs:
* clonazepam – prescribed to treat panic disorders or seizure
* diazepam ( also known as Valium) – prescribed for anxiety disorders, alcohol withdrawal or muscle spasm
* flunitrazepam ( also known as Rohypnol) is a sedative used in hospitals for deep sedation in the 1970’s
* lorazepam – prescribed to treat convulsions or epileptic seizures
* morphine or opiate and opioid-based drugs – prescribed for moderate to severe pain.
* methadone – prescribed for heroin addiction and pain relief
* oxazepam – is used to relieve anxiety, including anxiety caused by alcohol withdrawal
* temazepam – originally prescribed for sleep problems (insomnia) although rarely these days as it has been found to affect chemicals in the brain that may become unbalanced and cause sleep problems (insomnia)
You can drive after taking these drugs if:
* you’ve been prescribed them and followed advice on how to take them by a healthcare professional
* they aren’t causing you to be unfit to drive even if you’re above the specified limits
You could be prosecuted if you drive with certain levels of these drugs in your body and you haven’t been prescribed them.
The law doesn’t cover Northern Ireland and Scotland but you could still be arrested if you’re unfit to drive.
Penalties for drug driving
If you’re convicted of drug driving you’ll get:
a minimum 1 year driving ban
an unlimited fine
up to 6 months in prison
a criminal record
Your driving licence will also show you’ve been convicted for drug driving. This will last for 11 years.
The penalty for causing death by dangerous driving under the influence of drugs is a prison sentence of up to 14 years.
Other problems you could face
A conviction for drug driving also means:
your car insurance costs will increase significantly
if you drive for work, your employer will see your conviction on your licence
you may have trouble travelling to countries like the USA
Last updated: 12 March 2015