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These blogs are written by our legal team and it is hoped you will find them informative. If you wish to discuss any of the issues raised within please do not hesitate to drop the author an email.

New 'drug driving' legislation.

10/3/20150 CommentsBy Emily Lloyd

Driving whilst under the influence of drugs either illicit or prescription has always been an offence should the police prove that it has impaired a driver’s ability to drive.  The new legislation will make it an offence to drive while over a specified limit for each of the 16 drugs included in the new law.  The police will no longer need to prove impairment for this new offence. 

Previously police would ask motorists suspected of driving while impaired by drugs to take a roadside impairment test.  However, new roadside saliva tests have now been approved.  These work in a similar way to breathalysers and will provide a pass or fail reading for the 16 drugs covered by the new law.  If you provide a positive test at the road side you will be taken to the police station and you will be requested to provide a blood sample.

The following prescription and illicit drugs will be included in the legislation. The limits are also included and effectively relate to a zero-tolerance policy for illicit substances.

Generally prescription drugs

Illicit 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

benzoylecgonine, 50 µg/L
cocaine, 10 µg/L
delta–9–tetrahydrocannabinol (cannabis and cannabinol), 2 µg/L
ketamine, 20 µg/L
lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), 1 µg/L
methylamphetamine (Crystal Meth or Ice), 10 µg/L
methylenedioxymethaphetamine (MDMA – ecstasy), 10 µg/L
6-monoacetylmorphine (6-MAM – heroin and diamorphine), 5 µg/L

It is a defence to a charge under Section 5A if you can prove that you were prescribed the drug for medical or dental purposes and the drugs were taken in accordance with any directions given by the person by whom the drug was prescribed or supplied. This is known as the ‘medical defence’. It is advisable to check the instructions for drug use clearly with your doctor or dentist to ensure that you will not be exposed to any potential criminal liability. If you are driving whilst taking prescribed medication, it may be helpful to keep evidence of this on you in case you are stopped by the police.

Traces of illicit and prescription drugs can remain in the body for many days.  This is why experts have assisted the government in setting levels at which they are likely to impair driving ability.  However the amount of time it will take drug levels to fall to an acceptable standard will depend on various factors including weight, height and tolerance.

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