Drug Driving Laws
Drug driving laws – How effective are they?
It is against the law for anyone to drive a vehicle whilst they are under the influence of illegal drugs, and in fact there are certain prescription drugs you should not drive with in your system either. The police now have access to a drug tests they can carry out at the roadside, which makes it much easier for them to detect if people are under the influence of illegal drugs whilst behind the wheel. The penalties for a driver who is caught and then convicted can be severe; large fines, driving bans and even prison sentences.
What does the law say?
The laws on drug driving changed on 2nd March 2015, the changes were put in place to make it easier for the police to apprehend drug drivers with the hope of getting a conviction, and ultimately making the roads a safer place to be.
As the law stands it is now an offence for anyone to drive if they have a specified level of any of the 17 controlled drugs, which include illegal, prescribed and some over the counter medications, in their blood (A list of the medications in question can be found on the government’s website). The limits for each dug are set to different levels and in the case of illegal drugs they are set very low, but not low enough that anyone who has been accidentally exposed to them, for example from passive smoking, would be penalised.
Police officers can now carry out roadside tests for cannabis and cocaine and screening for ecstasy, LSD, Ketamine and Heroin can be carried out at a police station. If the police suspect that a driver is under the influence of drugs, even if they have passed a roadside check, they can make an arrest if they deem it to be in the best interests of public safety.
Drug driving laws, the statistics
A year on from the introduction of the new laws, the governments preliminary figures showed some startling results. Arrest rates for drug driving related offences had soared by up to 800% on a nationwide scale. Over the Christmas period the police achieved a 50% success rate for their test results which made it very clear that they were accurately targeting offenders.
With conviction rates, up from 80% under the old laws to 98% with the new laws in place, it is time for drivers to think very carefully before they drive whilst under the influence of drugs. Conviction carries the following penalties:
Driving ban for a minimum of 12 months
A criminal record
Prison sentence of up to 6 months
A driving license endorsement that lasts 11 years
And whilst these penalties on their own could be considered bad enough it is worth remembering that the consequences can be more far reaching and may even result in job loss, loss of independence, increases in car insurance premiums, and even trouble travelling to certain countries such as the USA.
The simple truth – it’s really not worth risking it – so if you’re on any medication, check out whether or not you should be behind the wheel, and when it comes to illegal drugs – just don’t do it.