Drug Driving and You - Are you fit to drive?
1 Mar 2015
There are major changes on the way to the Drug Driving legislation which means you could be breaking the law when driving if you are abusing prescribed medicines from your GP or healthcare professional. The new law comes into effect from 2nd March 2015 in England and Wales. Although the new law does not cover Northern Ireland and Scotland, you could still be arrested if you are unfit to drive.
It will be an offence to drive with certain drugs above specified blood levels in your body. The limits have been set at very low levels for eight drugs usually associated with illegal drug use, such as cannabis and cocaine, to tackle illegal drug use while driving.
The new law will now include an additional eight drugs usually
associated with medicinal use that are sometimes abused, although the levels have been set higher for these drugs. The eight common drugs are:
Morphine which is used to treat pain – Flunitrazepam, Diazepam, Lorazepam, Oxazepam, Temazepam, Clonazepam, which are used to treat anxiety or inability to sleep – Methadone which is used to treat drug addiction.
The majority of people who are fit to drive and taking medicines as directed by their GP or healthcare professional, are unlikely to be above the specified limit and would not be committing an offence.
If you have to and need to take any of the specified medicines you should keep taking them as prescribed. Always check the leaflet that comes with your medicines for information on how your medicines may affect your driving ability.
However, do not drive after taking your medicines until you know how they affect you. Do not drive if you feel drowsy; dizzy; unable to concentrate or make decisions; or if you have blurred or double vision.
If you are taking any of the specified medicines, it may be advantageous to have the evidence with you when driving to show you have been supplied legally. This will then minimise any inconvenience, if you are stopped by the police.
If you are unsure how the law change will affect you, talk to your GP, a member of the pharmacy team or your healthcare professional. However, it will remain an offence to drive while your ability is impaired by drugs. So if in doubt, you should not drive or you could be prosecuted.
If you are prosecuted and convicted for drug driving you will get: a minimum 1 year driving ban; a fine of up to £5,000; you could be sent to prison for up to a year; and ultimately, you will have a criminal record.
Your driving licence will also show a conviction for drug driving, which will remain on your licence for 11 years.
The penalty for causing death by dangerous driving under the influence of drugs is a prison sentence of up to 14 years.
A conviction for drug driving means you could lose your job whether or not you drive for a living. Even when you are allowed to drive again, you may not get insurance or if you do your car insurance costs will increase significantly.
Finally, if you have ever fancied going to the USA for a holiday you may not be allowed entry in the country because of your conviction. THINK! Is it a risk worth taking?