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Drug Driving and the change in the law

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From today, the 2nd March 2015, the law in respect of drug driving will change.

The police have been empowered to use road side ‘drugalyser’ – a device that will be able to measure the amount of a particular drug in a drivers blood system. The principal will be the same as a roadside breathalyzer for drink driving offences. Additionally, Police officers have also been trained to consider the use of a road side impairment test to check a drivers reaction, balance and coordination.

The new law sets limits for various types of drugs, including prescribed drugs. Exceed the limit and you risk both losing your driving licence and a prison sentence. The limits set for illegal drugs however are set low, essentially amounting to a zero tolerance policy for drugs such as Cocaine, Cannabis and Ecstasy.

Drivers who are prescribed medication for relatively common problems such Epilepsy, Anxiety and  insomnia are most of risk of inadvertently exceeding the drug driving limit. The best advice for drivers in this situation is to speak with their GP or Pharmacist to double check their personal position. The limits set for prescribed drugs however exceed the normal prescribed doses. For example, the limits set for the following commonly prescribed drugs are:

Temazepam       50mg

Oxazepam         300mg

Clonazepam      50mg

Lorazepam         100mg

The above list is not exhaustive.

Whilst it will be difficult for any driver to know that they beneath the legal drug limit, following advice on taking prescribed medication and adhering to GP’s instructions on driving and the use of prescribed drugs will be of crucial importance. Those who take illegal drugs and drive can expect the full weight of the law to impact and can expect the loss of their driving licence for at least 12 months.

If in doubt, take advice.