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Drug driving to be a criminal offence with new roadside ‘Drugalysers’

Mon, 07 May 2012

Drug Driving - Roadside tests coming this year

The government is to enact law to make driving under the influence of drugs punishable in the same way as drink driving.

If you thought driving under the influence of drugs was  already a criminal offence, you’re right. Sort of.

Although you can be prosecuted for driving under the influence of drugs – prescription as well as recreational – the onus is on the police to prove your driving was impaired. And so difficult has that been to achieve that there were only 385 drug tests over the last Christmas period compared to 170,000 for drink.

Now ministers are ready to address the drug driving problem by introducing a roadside ‘Drugalyser’ test that can be simply administered. If a driver fails the test they will be taken to the police station for a further test and if they fail that they will be prosecuted, with the penalties expected to be the same as drink driving – a minimum 12 month ban, up to £5,000 fine and even up to six months in jail.

Which all sounds very sensible, but there seems to be no sign of proscribed limits for drugs yet. Until limits are proscribed – and at a level that allows for normal use – legislation can’t be enacted. And which drugs do you proscribe limits for?

Cannabis and coke seem obvious, as do tranquillisers and sleeping pills. But where do you go from there with an endless cocktail of drugs available? What about combinations of drugs? Will it be illegal to drive after one joint? And if it’s not, what about the driver who’s smoked a joint, snorted a line of coke and popped a couple of tranquillisers?

And what about the new recreational drugs that arrive on the market every week? How will they be proscribed for, or even tested for? It’s a minefield, which is why successive governments have shied away from it.

It seems likely the new test will catch the tokers and snorters and the tranquilliser abusers – but are they the real menace?

Source: Telegraph

By Cars UK