Drugs affect a person’s ability to drive properly. They can be illegal, legal highs, prescription or over the counter medication. There are two offences relating to drug driving:

  • Being unfit to drive through alcohol or drugs
  • Driving with a specified drug above a specified limit in your blood

The current Police tests for drugs involve either the FIT test (Field Impairment Test) which is a series of five tests used by officers to determine if someone is fit to drive.

  • They involve checking someone’s eyes and pupil size
  • Getting a person to estimate the passage of thirty seconds standing up straight with their head tilted back and their eyes closed
  • A walk and turn test
  • A one leg stand test
  • Touching finger to nose with their eyes closed.

There are road side drug screeners which detect cannabis and cocaine above a specified limit in law. In addition to this there are a further 14 drugs with set specified limits in blood.

Prescribed and over-the-counter medicines can also impair your ability to drive. If you are affected by drugs or medicines then you should not drive. Many medicines will have a warning on the box which will advise not to drive or operate heavy machinery, others may warn that they can cause drowsiness.

In any event, if any drug/medicine that you take impairs your ability to drive, then you are at risk of being arrested and prosecuted. It is also important to highlight that mixing alcohol and drugs (legal or otherwise) can have a significant and affect on your ability to drive.

 

The drugs covered by the regulations are:

Illegal Drugs​ (Accidental Exposure -zero tolerance approach)

​Threshold limit in blood

Benzoylecgonine​

50μg/L​

Cocaine​

10μg/L​

Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannibinol (cannabis)​

2μg/L​

Ketamine​

20μg/L​

Lysergic Acid Diethylamide​

1μg/L​

Methylamphetamine​

10μg/L​

MDNA​

10μg/L​

6-Monoacetylmorphine (heroin)

5μg/L​

In addition to illegal drugs, the new law also includes nine drugs commonly associated with medicinal use that are sometimes abused. The legal limits for these drugs have been set at higher limits based on the available evidence of the road safety risk and to reflect their use as medicines.

The new legislation affects the following prescription medications:

Medicinal' Drugs (risk based approach)​

Threshold limit in blood​

Clonazepam​

50μg/L​

Diazepam​

550μg/L​

Flunitrazepam​

300μg/L​

Lorazepam​

100μg/L​

Methadone​

500μg/L​

Morphine​ or opiate and opioid-based drugs

80μg/L​

Oxazepam​

300μg/L​

Temazepam​

1,000μg/L​

Amphetamine

250μg/L​

If you have any concerns surrounding prescription medication consult your GP or prescriber.

The penalties

The penalties for driving under the influence of drugs are the same as they are for drink driving. Anyone caught drug driving will receive:

  • A minimum 12-month driving ban
  • An unlimited fine
  • Up to 6 months in prison
  • A criminal record

Furthermore:

  • There will be a specific record on the driving licence for eleven years that details a conviction for drug driving
  • If the driver is convicted of causing death by dangerous driving, they will receive a prison sentence of up to fourteen years
  • If they drive for work their employer will see the conviction when they have to produce their licence
  • Car insurance will increase significantly
  • Any drug-related conviction may mean encountering difficulties getting permission to enter countries such as the USA.

If you have any concerns about a person drug driving please contact 101 or Crimestoppers.