Police get new powers to tackle drug driving

Published 2 March 2015

A new law making it illegal to drive whilst under the influence of drugs comes into effect today (2 March). At the same time, new testing kits will make it easier for the police to catch and convict those that drug drive.

The new legislation makes it illegal to drive with certain drugs – including some prescription drugs – in the body above specified levels. To help the police catch drug drivers, officers can now test suspected drug drivers at the roadside using new screening equipment. Initially officers will be able to screen drivers for cannabis and cocaine at the roadside. If an officer suspects the driver has taken drugs, they can screen the driver at a police station, even if the driver passes the roadside check. People using prescription drugs within recommended amounts will not be penalised.

Future screening devices will enable the police to test drivers for a greater number of drugs at the roadside.

The kits, together with the new offence, will help the police quickly identify and prosecute drug drivers. It remains an offence to drive when impaired by any drug, including medical drugs.

Consequences

From today, motorists who are caught by the police with a controlled drug above a specified level in their blood face a criminal record, loss of their licence for at least a year and a fine of up to £5,000.

Road Safety Minister Robert Goodwill said:

“This new law will save lives. We know driving under the influence of drugs is extremely dangerous; it devastates families and ruins lives.

“The government’s message is clear - if you take drugs and drive, you are endangering yourself and others and you risk losing your licence and a conviction.”

More information about the legislation can be found on GOV.UK.

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