The New 2015 Drug Driving Law
A new drug driving law came into effect on 2 March 2015. The law makes it illegal to drive with certain illegal drugs in the blood, even if your driving is not impaired. In other words, it is an offence if you are over the specified limits for each drug whilst driving, just as it is with alcohol and driving. It is also illegal to drive with certain levels of certain legal drugs, if it affects your driving and you are unfit to drive.
The new law act as a complement to the existing law of driving whilst impaired through drink or drugs.
The law cover England and Wales, but not Northern Ireland and Scotland.
Two Ways of Breaking the Law
It is important to remember that you are breaking the law if you are driving and:
- You are unfit to do so because you are on legal or illegal drugs.
- You have certain levels of certain drugs in your blood (even if they haven’t affected your driving)
The new drug driving law gives the police powers to test and arrest drivers on the suspicion of driving on drugs in excess of the specified levels. If you are stopped by the police and an officer thinks you are on drugs, the officer will do a field impairment assessment. This includes a series of tests to determine if you are impaired.
If the officer finds that you are unfit to drive, you will be arrested and will have to take a blood or urine test at a police station.
Illegal drugs covered by the new drug driving law include, among others, cannabis, cocaine, ecstasy, heroin, methylamphetamine, and ketamine. The limits for these illegal drugs are set with a zero tolerance approach and are very low. For example, one smoke of cannabis is likely to put you over the limit.
You can drive after taking the following drugs:
- morphine or opiate and opioid-based drugs
But only: if you have been prescribed them and advised how to take them by a healthcare professional AND they are not causing you to be unfit to drive!
The new drug driving law provides a medical defence if you’re taking drugs in accordance with your prescription and as long as you are not impaired!
Blood sampling – photo by: Goran Bogicevic