Drug Driving Laws, UK
New Drug Driving Laws in England & Wales
New drug driving laws came into effect on 2nd March 2015
New legislation, namely section 56 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013  inserted a new section into The Road Traffic Act 1988  (section 5A Drugs and Driving). This created two new criminal offences.
The new drug driving laws apply to England and Wales only
It is now a criminal offence to drive, attempt to drive or be in charge of a motor vehicle on a road or other public place when a person has a specified controlled drug in their body and the proportion of the specified controlled drug exceeds the maximum legal limit for that particular drug.
Drug driving is now similar to drink driving; if a person drives, attempts to drive or is in charge of a vehicle while exceeding the legal limit of a specified controlled drug, they will be committing a criminal offence.
The new drug driving offences came about in an effort to help reduce the amount of wasted time, effort and expense involved when prosecutions often fail under Section 4 of The Road Traffic Act 1988  (Driving or being in charge, when under the influence of drink or drugs) due to the difficulty of proving that a drivers ability was, at the time, impaired by drugs. However, the section 4 offences will still be enforced alongside the new laws.
Legislation has specified seventeen drugs alongside the maximum legal drug driving limit of each drug. The seventeen specified drugs include eight illegal drugs, eight medicinal drugs and amphetamine.
There is a defence to the new drug driving laws under certain circumstances where a person is taking legal drugs for medical reasons.
Drug Driving Penalties
The penalties upon conviction of drug driving are severe, they include:
- A criminal record
- A minimum 12 month minimum driving ban
- Up to 6 months in prison
- An unlimited fine
- A DG10 driving licence endorsement (remains on licence for 11 years)
Other consequences may include:
- Increased car insurance premiums
- The shame and humiliation a lot of people feel when convicted
- Possible job loss and/or financial problems that my occur
- A feeling of loss of independence (relying on public transport, friends or family to get to places)
- Possible difficulty in obtaining employment with a criminal driving conviction (especially for professional drivers)
- High stress levels due to being arrested, appearing at court, the penalties imposed and ending up with a criminal record
If you take prescription medication you must take your medication as instructed by your GP or relevant healthcare professional and/or in accordance with any instructions contained within the patient information leaflet (PIL) of the medication.
Remember, if your ability to drive is impaired by drugs: DO NOT DRIVE!
You can be prosecuted under section 4 of The Road Traffic Act 1988 if you do, even if you do not exceed the legal drug driving limits.
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