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The New Drug Driving Law

The new drug driving law came into force on 2 March 2015.  The law is very similar to that of drink driving, except of course this is drug driving. The offences are only committed if the drug driving is on a road or public place.

Before March, the only offence which could have been proceeded with if a person was found to be driving with drugs in their system, was ‘driving whilst unfit through drugs’. However this required the prosecution to show that the drugs actually impaired the person’s ability to drive. This new law creates a strict liability drug driving offence so that an offence is committed if the person is over the prescribed limit, regardless of whether there is any driver impairment. This brings it in line with drink driving.

The Drug Driving (Specified Limits) (England and Wales) Regulations 2014 create a new section (5A) within the Road Traffic Act 1988 which specifies limits for certain controlled drugs. An offence is committed if a person is driving, attempting to drive or in charge of a vehicle with a level of drugs in their blood or urine which is above the prescribed limit.

Defences

You may have a defence to drug driving if you are using a prescription drug and can show that the following apply:

(a) the specified controlled drug had been prescribed or supplied to you for medical or dental purposes,

(b) You took the drug in accordance with any directions given by the person by whom the drug was prescribed or supplied, and with any accompanying instructions (so far as consistent with any such directions) given by the manufacturer or distributor of the drug, and

(c) Your possession of the drug immediately before taking it was not unlawful.

However, bear in mind that you will not have a defence to drug driving if:

(a) your actions were contrary to any advice, given by the person by whom the drug was prescribed or supplied, about the amount of time that should elapse between taking the drug and driving a motor vehicle, or

(b) your actions were contrary to any accompanying instructions about that matter given by the manufacturer or distributor of the drug.

Click this box for the current prescribed drug driving limits for prescription drugs:

Controlled DrugLimit (microgrammes per litre of blood)
Amphetamine250
Benzoylecgonine50
Clonazepam50
Cocaine10
Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol2
Diazepam550
Flunitrazepam300
Ketamine20
Lorazepam100
Lysergic Acid Diethylamide1
Methadone500
Methylamphetamine10
Methylenedioxymethamphetamine10
6-Monoacetylmorphine5
Morphine80
Oxazepam300
Temazepam1000

 

And this one for the limits for illegal drugs:

Illegal’ drugs (‘accidental exposure’ – zero tolerance approach)Threshold limit in blood (µg/L)
benzoylecgonine50
cocaine10
delta-9-tetrahydrocannibinol (cannabis)2
ketamine20
lysergic acid diethylamide1
methylamphetamine10
MDMA10
6-monoacetylmorphine (heroin)5

 

Penalties for drug driving

These range from a 12 month driving ban up to 6 months’ imprisonment. This inline with the penalties for drink driving. If you’re facing a drug driving offence get in touch today.

For free advice, speak to a solicitor on our local rate number 0330 1330 081 or, if you prefer, fill out our Contact Form and we'll call you back: usually the same day and often within the hour. You can also email us here.