Government proposes zero-tolerance to drug driving

09/07/2013
Highways Reporters

The Government has revealed proposals to set zero-tolerance drug drive limits under new laws which could come into force in 2014.

Plans to make it easier to prosecute those who drive under the influence of illegal drugs have been published today (9 July) by the Department for Transport (DfT).

In January 2012, the Government announced that it would be introducing a new offence of driving with a specific controlled drug in the body above the specified limit for that drug. The consultation puts forward proposals on the drugs to be included in the legislation and the limits to be specified. The proposals follow a report published in March this year by a panel of medical and scientific experts which provided advice to the Government on drug driving.

The new offence will 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.

Roads Minister Stephen Hammond said: "Drug driving is a menace which devastates families and ruins lives. That is why we are proposing to take a zero tolerance approach with those who drive under the influence of illegal drugs and sending a clear message that this behaviour will not be tolerated.

"We have also put forward our proposals for dealing with drivers who use specific prescribed drugs. We know that the vast majority of people who use these drugs are doing so responsibly and safely and that is why our approach does not unduly penalise drivers who have taken properly prescribed medicines.

"Together, these proposals will make our roads safer for everyone by making it easier for the police to tackle those who drive after taking illegal drugs and clarifying the position for those who take medication."

The Government is proposing a zero tolerance approach to the following eight controlled drugs which are known to impair driving: Cannabis, MDMA (Ecstasy), Cocaine, Ketamine, Benzoylecgonine (primary metabolite of cocaine), Methamphetamine, Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD), 6-monoacetylmorphine (6-MAM - heroin and diamorphine).

In addition to the eight illegal drugs listed above, the Government proposes to set limits for eight controlled drugs that have recognised and widespread medical uses but which can also affect a patient's ability to drive.

While the draft regulations proposed are in relation to England and Wales, the consultation on the approach to the different policy options has been extended to Scotland.

The consultation starts today and closes on 17 September 2013.

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