From 2nd March 2015 The new drugs offence under the Crime and Courts Act (2013) will make it illegal to drive with one or more specified drugs in the body above the specified limit for that drug. Conviction could result in motorists receiving a minimum one year driving ban, a fine of up to £5000 & up to one year in prison. They will have a criminal record and their driving licence will state that they been convicted for drug-driving.
The new offence includes not only illegal drugs, but also 8 common prescription drugs including clonazepam, diazepam, lorazepam, flunitrazepam, oxazepam, temazepam, methadone & morphine. You can drive after taking these drugs if, but only if you have been prescribed them, advised & followed the directions of the healthcare professional and providing they they did not cause you to be unfit to drive.
As a result even law abiding motorists could next month suddenly find themselves the wrong side of the law if they are not taken in line with doctors direction. Motorists who take prescribed medication are advised to urgently check with their general practitioner. There will be a medical defence if a driver has been taking medication as directed and is found to be over the drug drive limit, but where their ability was not impaired.
There has been some, but insufficient publicity regarding the drugs changes which probably will have the biggest impact upon road side tests since breath tests were first introduced. Despite being cash-strapped and cost-cutting police forces however are believed to have been purchasing roadside testing equipment in advance. Motorists who fail the roadside test will be taken to the police station for a blood test to confirm the presence of drugs in the body.
Just as with other criminal offences, motorists would also face increased insurance premiums, difficulties in travel to countries like the USA and effect upon ones employment.