Motoring And Prescription Drugs – New Rules In Force from March 2015

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Motorists who regularly take large doses of certain brands of cough mixture are being warned they could lose their licences under tough new drug driving laws.

Drug Driving
Experts say that law abiding drivers who take the over the counter medicine to try and shake off a cold or the flu could now find themselves falling foul of the new legislation. Under the new rules even those who took excessive remedies the night before driving could find themselves liable to prosecution.

The tough new limits give a near zero tolerance for illegal drugs such as cocaine, cannabis and ecstasy, while there is a now a prescribed limit for others including eight over the counter drugs.

Legal over the counter medication can lead to a ban because they can impair driver's judgement and slow their reaction times by making them drowsy.

New Campaign Launched

The warning came as ministers launched a new campaign to remind motorists across England and Wales taking medicines to check with their doctor or pharmacist before getting behind the wheel.

Last night Manchester based motoring lawyer Julie Robertson of Simpson Millar solicitors, said “I have already had lots of people ringing me for advice. People are quite rightly concerned, as for the first time you could find yourself in the dock for over indulging in cough mixture the night before. Popular brands such as Night Nurse which you get from the chemist can now land you in trouble. New warnings to drivers are now appearing on their packaging. If you take too much and your driving ability is impaired then you can be prosecuted. Then you are looking at getting a minimum one year ban and a criminal record. The police will be doing roadside tests similar to those used for drink driving."

“It’s a bizarre situation and I’m sure one that most drivers in Manchester aren’t aware of. While I welcome the new laws, people need to be aware of the risk when they come down with a sniffle and reach for the bottle."

"Those with prescription medicines may also be at risk and should check with their doctors before driving. Always check the label now before you drive.”

Aim To Reduce Deaths By Drug Driving

The new rules which came into force on March 2nd are designed to catch those that are risking people’s lives by taking illegal or excessive amounts of prescription drugs. Each year it is estimated that 200 people are killed on UK roads as a result of drug driving.

The new offence created by the Crime and Courts Act 2013 makes it illegal to drive with one or more specified drugs in the body above a specified limit. The legally obtained drugs which are now subject to testing include Diazepam, Temazepam and Morphine and were included on advice from a panel of scientific experts.

Motorists convicted of drug driving will get a minimum 1 year driving ban, a fine of up to £5,000, up to six months in prison and a criminal record.

Police will enforce the new laws with roadside saliva-testing kits which detect illegal substances.

The government insist that the vast majority of people can drive as they normally would, so long as they are taking their medicine in accordance with the advice of a healthcare professional or as printed in the accompanying leaflet and that their driving is not impaired.

A Department for Transport spokesman said: ‘The new law comes into force from the 2nd March and is designed to catch people who risk other people’s lives by getting behind the wheel after taking drugs, and not those taking legitimate medicines that don’t impair their ability to drive.’


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