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New Legislation: Drug Driving

Posted on 27th January, 2015

Under the legislation the police will be able to take roadside saliva swabs and screen motorists for any of 16 specified illicit and prescription drugs that have been set official limits.  These include cannabis, cocaine and ecstasy and with sophisticated drug testing equipment capable of identifying traces up to five days after consumption, even one smoke of cannabis is likely to put the driver over.

The new laws will operate in tandem with existing drink driving legislation with penalties including imprisonment, large fines and obligatory disqualification for a minimum of 12 months. Drugs covered by the legislation and their prescribed levels fall into two categories;

Illicit drugs

Benzoylecgonine, 50 µg/L

Cocaine, 10 µg/L

Cannabis  2 µg/L

Ketamine, 20 µg/L

LSD 1 µg/L

Methylamphetamine, 10 µg/L

Ecstacy 10 µg/L

Heroin and Diamorphine, 5 µg/L

Prescription drugs

Clonazepam, 50 µg/L

Diazepam, 550 µg/L

Flunitrazepam, 300 µg/L

Lorazepam, 100 µg/L

Methadone, 500 µg/L

Morphine, 80 µg/L

Oxazepam, 300 µg/L

Temazepam, 1000 µg/L

The prescribed limits are low but rule out passive consumption. The legislation also includes a ‘medical defence’ where the drugs were lawfully prescribed and the motorist can demonstrate adherence to the associated driving directions.

Conclusion. The law regarding illegal substances and driving is now crystal clear. Don’t do it. In other cases involving prescribed drugs the motorist should

  1. Always follow guidance notes accompanying the medication.
  2. Never take more than the recommended dose.
  3. If in doubt consult a GP about the effects of the medication on driving.
  4. Always watch out for the side effects of some medicines: e.g. drowsiness, lack of concentration, reduced coordination, excitement or aggression and if in any doubt never get behind the wheel.
  5. Never mix alcohol and drugs.


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