In March 2015 the law surrounding drugs and driving changed, making it as illegal to drive with drugs in your system as it is to drive drunk.
The main difference in this law was that the prosecution no longer had to prove that the drugs in the driver’s body caused any difference in the person’s reaction times, manner or general attentiveness while driving.
This now makes driving while under the influence of drugs a very similar offence to drink driving, in that if you are over the legal limit, you are breaking the law, regardless of how much you argue that you were in a fit state to drive.
What drugs are associated with this law change?
Since the law was passed, most drivers who have been prosecuted tested positive for cannabis use. However, other drugs that have been discovered include cocaine and ecstasy.
There are also a wide variety of prescription drugs that are associated with the law change. These are drugs that you wouldn’t necessarily associate with breaking the law, but can impair your ability to drive without you realising.
These drugs include:
- Diazepam (A.K.A. valium)
Are the police able to test for drugs at the roadside?
Yes, the police are able to test for drugs at the roadside.
To do this they are using ‘drugalyser’ testing kits, which can test immediately for cannabis and cocaine, as well as a wide variety of other drugs.
How can different drugs affect you on the road?
Here are three of the most common drugs that drivers have been found under the influence of, and how they can negatively affect your driving:
- Cocaine: cocaine can make users feel overconfident and aggressive. This can result in taking more risks on the road their driving being erratic.
- Ecstasy: this drug can make users experience distorted vision, have a higher sensitivity to light and sounds, and can result in more risk taking on the road.
- Cannabis: Although drivers may feel safe while driving under the influence of cannabis, this drug can slow reaction times and cause the driver to lose concentration.
Facts about drug driving
- If you are convicted of drug driving, you face up to six months in prison and at least a 12 month driving ban.
- Even if you pass the roadside test, you can still be arrested if police suspect you of being under the influence of an illegal substance.
- Like drink driving, if you are convicted of drug driving, the offence will stay on your license for 11 years.