Published On: Mon, Mar 2nd, 2015 on 4:10 pm

Explained: New drug driving law and “drugalysers” in force

A new law that has come into force today will make it illegal to drive with set limits for both illegal and certain legal drugs for the first time.

Drug Driving Law UK

Image: West Yorkshire Police.

The new legislation now sets limits for certain drugs, which means police can test drivers for drugs in a similar way to how they currently test for alcohol.

Limits are set at very low levels for eight illegal drugs including cannabis and cocaine while some legally prescribed drugs including diazepam and methadone are also included as certain strong medication can affect people’s ability to drive.

Class A cocaine and class B cannabis have been deliberately chosen as they have been found to be the most prolific drugs used by those drug driving and can have significant levels of impairment when it comes to people’s ability to drive.

The “drugalysers”

In West Yorkshire, police will be using a new testing kit dubbed as “drugalysers” that will offer a quick test for the presence of cannabis and cocaine at the roadside.

Anyone suspected of driving while under the influence of drugs can be quickly tested with a saliva swab and then arrested if the test proves positive.

Previously, the offence of driving whilst unfit through drugs would be used to prosecute drivers, but the new laws are in addition to this existing offence.

A drug-driving conviction will result in a criminal record, a minimum 12-month driving ban, a fine of up to £5,000 and up to 6 months in prison or both.

Inspector Joanne Field, who leads West Yorkshire Police’s Roads Policing Unit, welcomed the new legislation.

She said: “The change in law with set limits for both illegal and some powerful legal drugs makes the process of tackling those who put lives at risk by drug-driving simpler by enabling us to test for the two most common illegal drugs at the roadside.

“The influence that drugs, both illegal and medication prescribed by a doctor, can significantly impair someone’s ability to drive and put your life as well as those of other road users in significant danger- just like drink-driving.”

 

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