Drug driving guidance issued - Palmers Solicitors

Drug driving guidance issued

New measures designed to crack down on drug driving have come a step closer with the issuing of government guidance to healthcare professionals.

A new offence of driving with certain controlled drugs, including some prescription drugs, above specified limits is due to come into force on 2 March 2015.

The guidance, which was issued on 3 July, is designed to help healthcare professionals explain and clarify the new rules to patients.

Police can already arrest and charge drivers if they drive while impaired by drugs, including medicinal drugs. The rules coming into force next year will mean it will be an offence to be over the specified limits for each drug while driving, as it is with drink driving.

The limits for most medicinal drugs are above the normal doses and the new law will provide a defence for drivers who are taking their medicine in accordance with instructions, provided they are not impaired.

The guidance also advises patients taking legitimately supplied medicines to keep evidence with them in case they are stopped by police. This will help speed up any investigation into the medical defence and reduce the inconvenience to the patient.

The new regulations will come in to force at the same time as new equipment to test drivers for cannabis and cocaine at the roadside is expected to become available to the police.

Roads Minister Robert Goodwill said: “The new guidance will help doctors, nurses and healthcare professionals explain the new drug driving offence and reassure their patients that provided they take their medication in accordance with advice and are not impaired they can carry on driving just as they have always done.

“The new drug driving law will make it easier for the police to tackle those who drive after taking illegal drugs or abuse medicinal drugs whether they are on prescription or available over the counter.

“This new offence will be introduced alongside major changes to drink-drive laws. Taken together, these will give police the tools they need to prosecute those who risk the lives of others through dangerous behaviour and make our roads safer.”

The changes to drink-driving rules, being introduced as part of the Deregulation Bill, will remove the right for drivers who fail a roadside breath test to demand a blood or urine test at the police station, which may take place several hours later, enabling some drivers who were over the limit when tested at the roadside time to sober up.

Removing the option for this test will allow breath tests to be used as evidence and new mobile breath testing equipment is expected to be approved early in 2015, allowing police to take evidential breath tests at the roadside.

Where businesses or individuals are facing road traffic offences or simply require clarification of the law as it applies to them, Palmers’ road traffic specialists can provide expert advice.

We also provide expert representation, with the aim of defending and preserving an individual’s licence wherever possible. For more information, please contact Jeremy Sirrell.