What You Need To Know About Drug Driving

20 Nov 2017


In the 12 months following the 2015 change in legislation, nearly 8000 people were arrested for drug driving offences. They face a minimum 12 month driving ban, up to 6 months in prison, an unlimited fine and a criminal record.

Legislation was changed to help deal with the fact that drugs have a serious effect on driving ability. Official figures recorded 47 deaths and 197 serious injuries caused by drug driving in 2014, though the real figure is likely to be much higher, estimated at around 200 fatalities. UK research previously found evidence of illegal drug use in the bodies of 18% of drivers and 15% of motorcyclists who died in road crashes.

A Canadian study found that cannabis quadruples the risk of being in a serious crash, while European research found cocaine and opiates make drivers up to 10 times more likely to suffer a serious or fatal incident. Combining drink and drugs is even more deadly, according to US figures, which found doubly impaired drivers 23 times more likely than sober drivers to have a fatal road accident.

Roadside testing devices, similar to breathalysers for detecting alcohol, have been introduced for testing for cocaine and cannabis. These became available to UK police when the new law came into force in March 2015. They allow the police to test for drugs just as easily as for alcohol, and should enable significantly more drug drivers to be prosecuted.

Drivers should be aware that it’s not just illegal drugs that cause impairment. Many prescription medications can cause drowsiness and slowed reaction times, or have other impacts on driving ability. The new legislation covers permitted limits for both illegal and prescription drugs. Always read the label and check with your doctor when taking a new medication.

Always make sure you are fit to drive, and never get in the car with a driver who you think may be under the influence. It’s just not worth the risk.


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