New Drug-Drive Laws Now in Effect in England and Wales
New rules targeting drug-drivers are now in effect across England and Wales. With an increase in the number of learner drivers and fully fledged motorists taking to the roads under the influence of narcotics, Book Theory Test Today examines what the new laws mean for those caught offending.
It’s been a long time coming, but new drug-drive laws are now being enforced across England and Wales. The new rules came into effect on March 2, 2015. Book Theory Test Today asks, what does it mean for those who get caught drug-driving?
In short, those caught face prosecution if they exceed a limit set for eight illegal narcotics, including cannabis and cocaine, plus eight prescription drugs.
Police have been issued with ‘drugalyser’ devices to test people at the road side.
The introduction of the new drug-drive laws has been widely welcomed by campaigners and ministers have said that the new legislation will save lives.
However, one motoring lawyer raised concerns about the impact on prescription drug users.
Laws delayed in Manchester
Great Manchester Police have said that they will not be enforcing the new drug-drive laws for a further two weeks as they need more time to adequately train officers and determine the legal implications of the changes.
Book Theory Test Today understands that the new drug-drive laws will co-exist alongside the current law, under which it is an offence to drive when impaired by any drug.
The penalties already in place mean that drug-drivers face a fine up to £5,000, up to six months in prison and minimum 12 month driving ban.
The new rules set low limit levels for eight illegal narcotics, while higher levels have been set for eight prescription drugs, which include methadone and morphine.
Drivers using prescription drugs as per the recommended amounts will not face action.
Along with cannabis and cocaine, police will also be able to screen for ecstasy, LSD, ketamine and heroin, using the ‘drugalyser’ device.
Book Theory Test Today also understands that new devices are currently in development that will enable police to test for a wider range of narcotics and these will be released in the ‘near future.’
In particular, the campaign has been hugely welcomed by one mother, campaigning on behalf of her 14-year-old daughter, Lillian Grove. Lillian was killed in Croydon in June 2010 by a motorist ‘high’ on cannabis at the time of the incident. The motorist was subsequently jailed for 8 months.
Natasha Grove, Lillian’s mother said of the new drug-drive laws: “We have fought tirelessly since losing Lillian, which ruined our lives, but our determination has brought about this significant change.”
Chief Executive of the Institute of Advanced Motorists said: “The new laws are a step in the right direction.”
Legal complications with drug-drive laws
However, Damien Simmonds, a lawyer with JMW solicitors in Manchester said: “These new laws will create legal complications. Many users of prescription drugs who feel they have done nothing wrong could be prosecuted for failing to provide roadside samples to police.”
He added: “There are a lot of people driving on levels they feel comfortable with, that they've been prescribed.”
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