The new drug-driving laws explained

Know where you stand with car insurance and driving laws

Know where you stand with car insurance and driving laws

In March this year, a new law came into force to prevent drug-driving in England and Wales. It included eight illegal drugs and some prescription drugs, but for many drivers, the new rules are still something of a minefield.

Following the introduction of this new law, a total of 902 motorists were arrested in the first two months, according to the Institute of Advanced Motorists.

Police have been equipped with new drugalysers to help them screen for substances, and if you’re convicted of drug-driving, you can expect harsh penalties including a year-long driving ban, a fine of up to £5,000 and a criminal record.

So let’s look closer at the restrictions of the drug-driving law.

Illegal drugs
The eight illegal drugs that now fall under the law are: Benzoylecgoni, Ketamine, Cocaine, Speed, MDMA, Heroin, Cannabis and Lysergic acid diethylamide.

Prescription drugs
The list, complete with limits, is as follows:

  • Temazepam (treats insomnia, 1,000µg/L)
  • Diazepam (treats anxiety disorders and muscle spasms, 550µg/L)
  • Methadone (pain relief, 500µg/L)
  • Flunitrazepam (or Rohypnol, sedatives, 300µg/L)
  • Oxazepam (for anxiety relief, 300µg/L)
  • Amphetamine (to treat ADHD, 250µg/L)
  • Lorazepam (to treat epilepsy, 100µg/L)
  • Morphine (pain relief, 80µg/L)
  • Clonazepam (panic disorders or seizures, 50µg/L)

It’s worth noting, however, that these set limits exceed the usual prescribed doses. This means that most drivers can proceed as normal.

This is as long as your medication doesn’t impact adversely on your driving and the doses are the ones recommended by your healthcare professional and as published in your drugs’ accompanying leaflet.

What about hay fever medication?
According to our road safety partner Brake, 44% of hay fever sufferers admit to not checking their medication instructions to find out how the drug will affect their ability to drive.

The charity also discovered that one in three hay fever sufferers are unaware that their medication can impair their driving.

The good news is that newer antihistamine treatments such as loratadine, azelastine, cetirizine and fexofenadine should not cause you drowsiness. If you do feel sleepy, however, avoid driving and consult your GP to try and get your prescription changed.

If you’re on prescribed drugs or over-the-counter medication and are in doubt whether you should get behind the wheel or not, speak to your pharmacist, healthcare professional or doctor. If in doubt, don’t drive.

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