Until now, whilst the law has previously been in place creating an offence for driving whilst under the influence of drugs, it has always been difficult to prove as it was based on an impairment test not a prescribed limit test.
The new law will now be in line with the drink driving laws which sets prescribed legal limits. The limits set low levels for 8 well known drugs such as Cocaine, MDMA, Ketamine and Cannabis which one would expect, however what is worrying is that it sets much higher levels for some prescription drugs such as Temazepam & Diazepam (used for treating conditions such as anxiety), Methadone (a heroin substitute) and Morphine (a strong pain killer).
All that the police will need to prove under the new law (in the same way as drink driving) is that the driver was driving whilst over the prescribed limit.
Section 5A (3) will provide for a medical defence if the drug is prescribed for medical reasons and is taken in accordance with the directions of the doctor (or dentist) and also in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. However, the defence can only be relied upon if the driver was not impaired.
Q-What if I am stopped by the police?
A- If you are stopped by the police whilst driving the police may use a roadside breath test to see if you have taken any of the drugs which will then be confirmed by a blood or urine test at the police station. It is therefore advisable for anyone who is taking prescribed medication to carry proof of that with them - however remember that you cannot rely on this defence if your driving is impaired. You will need to ensure that you follow the instructions and warnings given regarding driving whilst taking the drug.
Should you find yourself charged with the new offence and require representation at court or you would simply like a road traffic offence consultation, please call Crosby & Woods today on 01273 734600 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lucinda Dore, Criminal Law Solicitor