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New drug-driving law to cover prescription pills
The Departement for Transport has announced that proposals to make the prosecution of drug-drivers easier will cover prescription drug abusers as well as those taking illegal substances.
Drug-driving is linked to hundreds of road deaths every year, but has previously been difficult to prosecute. It’s hoped a new offence – “driving with a specific controlled drug in the body above the specified limit for that drug” – will help improve this situation.
While we already knew that the government was planning to crack down on motorists driving under the influence of illegal drugs, today’s announcement also confirms that limits will be set for certain prescription medicines as well.
The prescription drugs in question include morphine, diazepam (perhaps better known as Valium), oxazepam, clonazepam, lorazepam, temazepam and flunitrazepam (Rohypnol). Most of these treat anxiety and insomnia.
Ministers have emphasised that those remaining within prescribed limits won’t fall victim to the new legislation – this is not an attempt to ‘criminalise’ drivers who require medication.
But the ‘zero tolerance’ approach to the new law means motorists contravening those limits should brace themselves for prosecution.
Several illegal substances will have genuine ‘zero’ limits under the new legislation, including cannabis, ecstasy, cocaine, ketamine, methamphetamine, LSD, heroin and diamorphine.
Amphetamine, which does have medicinal uses, is currently under investigation to see if a safe driving limit can be found.
Anyone caught over the limit enforced by the UK’s new drug-driving law, set to be introduced in 2014, could face a 12-month driving ban, six months in jail and a fine up to £5,000.
Of course, that still relies on road police being around to catch the offenders – and since the latest statistics indicate the number of traffic officers has been cut by 12% in the last five years, the situation isn’t as hopeful as it might be.
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