It’s likely that you’re unaware of the new drug driving laws that come into effect in the UK on March 2, 2015, which could see motorists who take heavy doses of common prescription drugs risk losing their license if getting behind the wheel.
It potentially leaves drivers open to prosecution, despite being on correct dosages issued by doctors or pharmacists. Of course, the legal driving limit for illegal drugs – cocaine, ketamine, LSD, heroin, cannabis etc – is set so low that any real active use would be detectable and deemed over the limit, but from March, eight further prescription drugs could also get you banned.
6. Morphine or opiate and opioid-based drugs
Law already states that you are not able to drive impaired but the new drug driving laws will make it easier for the Police to detect and prosecute drug drivers. That means that, effectively, drivers who take large doses of medicines to combat relatively common ailments could find themselves over-the-limit or judged to be impaired. Edmund King, president of the AA, said: “People who feel under the weather sometimes overdose themselves. There could be instances where someone has had a late night because they felt ill and knew they had to be on the road at 6am – they could be over the limit.”
The Department for Transport – who say the new laws are designed to reduce the toll of fatal accidents blamed on drug-driving (around 200 a year) – are encouraging drivers taking the named prescription drugs to carry evidence of prescription when driving.
“However, it remains the responsibility of all drivers, including patients, to consider whether they believe their driving is, or might be, impaired on any given occasion, for example if they feel sleepy,” a statement read, “It will remain an offence, as now, to drive whilst their driving is impaired by drugs; and, if in doubt, drivers should not drive.”
Convictions for those caught over the limit on illegal drugs, or the eight named prescription drugs, remains a minimum 1 year driving ban, a fine of up to £5,000, up to a year in prison and a criminal record. There are other post conviction issues, insurance companies such as Admiral will not insure any drivers with previous drug driving convictions and travel to countries such as the USA would be extremely difficult if not impossible.
Interestingly the new laws don’t stretch as far as Scotland or Northern Ireland.