From the 2nd of March this year new drug driving laws will come into effect in England and Wales, and will include prescription drugs as well as illegal drugs. Road safety charity Think! are encouraging people know the laws and how it may affect their driving. Think! are asking people who take any of the listed prescribed medicines to check with their doctor or pharmacist if they are safe to drive whilst on their medication.
The Department for Transport have said the new laws are designed to catch those endangering other people's lives by getting behind the wheel after taking drugs. Although prescription drugs will also be included in the new laws they will not punish those who take them for legitimate reasons.
The new drug driving laws are being introduced to bring drug driving into line with drink driving laws. From March the 2nd it will be illegal to be over a specified amount of illegal drugs including cannabis, ecstasy and cocaine. The limit legally allowed is extremely low like the legal amount of alcohol allowed while driving.
The Government has announced that the new law will also cover 8 prescription drugs including:
The limits for these drugs will exceed normal prescribed doses meaning that the vast majority of people will be able to continue driving as they normally would. The new laws regarding prescription drugs will only affect those who:
• are taking their medicine in accordance with the advice of a healthcare professional and/or as printed in the accompanying leaflet
• their driving is not impaired
Speaking about how the new laws will affect those taking prescribed drugs mentioned on the list Robert Goodwill Minister for Road Safety said: “If you are taking your medicine as directed and your driving is not impaired, then you are not breaking the law and there is no need to worry. We advise anyone who is unsure about the effects of their medication or how the new legislation may affect them, to seek the advice of their doctor or pharmacist."
Think! are also advising drivers who take prescribed medicines to carry evidence with them whilst driving such as a prescription list or letter from their doctor. There will be a medical defence for drivers who have been taking their medication as directed and found to be over the limit but not impaired. If you are carrying evidence of your medication needs this will help minimise any inconvenience should they be stopped by police.
Professor David Taylor, Royal Pharmaceutical Society spokesperson and member of the Department for Transport advisory panel on drug driving said: “Don't stop taking your medicines, prescribed or otherwise, if you are worried about this new law. Instead, talk to your doctor or pharmacist for information about how your medicines might affect your ability to drive. They'll be happy to give you the advice you need to stay safe."
For more information on the new laws visit https://www.gov.uk/drug-driving-law. For those taking any of the prescribed medicines on the list it is advised they speak to their pharmacist or doctor about how the new laws may affect them.
‘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 (LSD) - 1µg/L
methylamphetamine - 10µg/L
MDMA - 10µg/L
6-monoacetylmorphine (heroin) - 5µg/L
‘Medicinal’ drugs (risk based approach)Threshold limit in blood
amphetamine (regulations were recently laid with the proposed limit and expected to come into force after 2 March 2015) - 250µg/L
clonazepam - 50µg/L
diazepam - 550µg/L
flunitrazepam - 300µg/L
lorazepam - 00µg/L
methadone - 500µg/L
morphine - 80µg/L
oxazepam - 300µg/L
temazepam - 1,000µg/L
By Jenna Niblock