New rules to combat drug-driving

2013-07-10 10:14

LONDON, England - British roads minister Stephen Hammond has released plans to make it easier to prosecute people who drive under the influence of drugs.

In January 2012 the British government announced that it would introduce a new offence of "driving under the influence of a controlled drug", above the specified limit for that substance.

Proposals published in July 2013 list the drugs to be included in the legislation and the limits. The proposals follow a report published in March 2013 by a panel of medical and scientific experts which advised the UK government on drug-driving.


According to the proposal: “The new offence will reduce the wasted time, expense and effort involved for the police and the courts when prosecutions fail because of the difficulty of proving that a driver was impaired by a particular drug.”

Hammond said: “Drug-driving is a menace which devastates families and ruins lives. That is why we are proposing zero-tolerance of  those who drive under the influence of illegal drugs and to send a clear message such behaviour will not be tolerated.

“We have also put forward proposals to deal with drivers who use prescribed drugs. We know most people who use these drugs are doing so responsibly and safely and that is why our approach does not unduly penalise drivers who have taken properly prescribed medicines.

“Together, these proposals will make our roads safer. It will be easier for the police to tackle those who drive after taking illegal drugs and clarify the position for those who take medication.”

Zero tolerance, the government says, will set limits at levels that "do not catch somebody who has inadvertently consumed a very small amount of an illegal drug".
The UK wants zero tolerance for these controlled drugs:

MDMA (Ecstasy)
Benzoylecgonine (primary metabolite of cocaine)
Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD)
6-monoacetylmorphine (6-MAM - heroin and diamorphine)


In addition to the eight drugs above, the British government proposes to set limits for eight controlled drugs that have “recognised and widespread medical uses but which can also affect a patient’s ability to drive".

 “The limits proposed will avoid the new regulation affecting drivers who have taken prescribed drugs in accordance with the directions of a health-care professional or the drug manufacturer. This will avoid inconveniencing the public.”

Another controlled drug, amphetamine, has certain medical uses in specific circumstances but is often taken illegally. It will be included in the regulations.


Royal Automobile Club technical director David Bizley said: “We welcome the government’s move to bring clarity to driving on illegal drugs and prescription medication, something very much needed. We all know that driving under the influence of drugs is extremely dangerous and wrecks lives – but it is also a growing problem, particularly among young drivers.

“It is more important than ever to inform and educate, otherwise we are allowing people to drive without regular reminders about the dangers of drug driving and how impaired senses can lead to serious injuries and deaths.”

The consultation started on July 9 and will close on September 17 2013.

What do you think of the new drug-driving regulations? Could they be implemented in SA? Email us your thoughts and we’ll publish them on Wheels24.