New “drug-driving” laws come into force today which give police powers to catch motorists driving under the influence of drugs.
Police now have the power to use “drugalysers” to screen for various drugs including cannabis and cocaine. In addition, officers can also test for ecstasy, LSD, ketamine and heroin once at the police station – even if a driver passes the roadside check.
The new drug-drive law sets limits at very low levels – bordering on ‘zero tolerance’ – for eight illegal drugs such as cannabis and cocaine. The tough legislation, covering illegal and prescription drugs, means motorists could face being arrested, receiving hefty fines and getting criminal records.
Today the drug driving specified limits for England and Wales regulations 2014 also come into effect. The Act includes eight prescription drugs – covering conditions such as anxiety, insomnia, severe pain and epilepsy. The limits set for these exceed normal prescribed doses.
However there will be a legal defence if a driver is found to be over the limit, but is not impaired.
Richard Posner, a partner in Bhatia Best’s criminal department said:
“The new legislation will lead to significantly more arrests for driving whilst driving under the influence of drugs. I anticipate battles over what constitutes ‘impairment’ for those who have legitimately taken prescription drugs.
Anyone arrested for these offences should seek legal advice. Our attendance at the police station will always be covered by legal aid, whatever your means.
At court, legal aid may also be available. Where it is not, we offer competitive, low-cost fixed fees. Contact our specialist road traffic solicitors today for a free initial appointment.“