New rules for drug driving are now in effect across England and Wales thanks to legislation that came into force from March 2 (2015). The new rules are designed to prevent people from driving after taking illicit drugs or certain prescription medications that impair ability. The teeth of the rules are found in its enforcement procedures, which could result in the loss of a licence for some drivers.
Prior to March 2, police forces had to prove that drivers were suffering from impaired ability before a conviction could be handed down by a court. That is no longer the case. It is now possible for officials to bring a case simply by proving a driver had drugs in his/her system at the time he/she was pulled over. This can be confirmed through a roadside saliva test and follow-up blood test at a police station.
According to The Telegraph, the law addresses a total of 16 drugs – including eight illicit substances and eight prescription medications. The drugs and their individual limits are as follows:
• Illicit Drugs – benzoylecgonine (50µg/L), cocaine (10µg/L), cannabis (2µg/L), ketamine (20µg/L), lysergic acid diethylamide (1µg/L), methylamphetamine (10µg/L), MDMA (10µg/L), heroin (5µg/L).
• Prescription Medications – amphetamine (250µg/L), clonazepam (50µg/L), diazepam (550µg/L), flunitrazepam (300µg/L), lorazepam (100µg/L), methadone (500µg/L), morphine (80µg/L), oxazepam (300µg/L), temazepam (1,000µg/L).
Professional drivers who may be unsure of whether or not prescription medications make them unfit to continue driving need to check with their doctors immediately. Being caught with any of the listed drugs in one's system can result in serious penalties and the potential loss of licence.
Officials are quick to point out that the change in the law is not designed to punish drivers legitimately taking prescription medications that do not impair judgement. Nonetheless, they will be aggressively enforcing the regulations against those who drive when they should not be behind the wheel. Companies that knowingly allow drivers to operate vehicles while ability is impaired could also be prosecuted.
Keeping Track of Licences
The new law will undoubtedly take some motorists by surprise in the coming months. Company owners and fleet managers should be sure to practice diligence in continual checking of driving licences. Any breach of the law, no matter how minor, could put your company at risk for both liability and increased insurance costs. That is a risk not worth taking.
Companies and fleet managers are also advised to educate their drivers regarding the new drug driving law. Making drivers aware of their responsibilities where prescription medications are concerned could help prevent an honest and innocent mistake. A driver taking any of the prescription medications listed above should consult his or her doctor for alternatives in order to continue working.
Fleet Licence Check is here to assist you in the challenging task of making sure driving licences are routinely checked. We handle about 20,000 checks every year. We have a direct link to the DVLA in order to conduct licence checks on your behalf.
Find out how it all works here.
1. The Telegraph – http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/road-and-rail-transport/11443215/New-drug-driving-rules-am-I-fit-to-drive.html