Motorists who take to the road while under the influence of illegal drugs are to be targeted by a new government clampdown to reduce drug-driving.
The coalition intends to take a zero tolerance approach to the problem of drug-driving in order to ensure that offenders can be prosecuted more easily. It is also hoped this will save time and money for the police and the criminal justice system.
Stephen Hammond, the roads minister, commented: “We are sending a clear message that this behaviour will not be tolerated.”
He described drug-driving as a “menace which devastates families and ruins lives”, but stressed that this new crackdown will not penalise those who use properly prescribed medicines.
“These proposals will make our roads safer for everyone by making it easier for the police to tackle those who drive after taking illegal drugs and clarifying the position for those who take medication,” Mr Hammond added.
The tougher rules will apply to eight drugs, including cannabis, ecstasy, cocaine and ketamine.
Drivers with traces of benzoylecgonine (primary metabolite of cocaine), methamphetamine, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) and 6-monoacetylmorphine (6-MAM – heroin and diamorphine) can also expect to be penalised.
The move has been welcomed by road safety charity Brake, which said it has spent many years campaigning for the law on drug-driving in the UK to be improved.
Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive of the organisation, said the planned changes should enable a greater number of “deadly drug-drivers to be caught and prosecuted before they cause destruction”.
Natasha Groves, whose 14-year-old daughter Lillian was killed by a drug-driver, added that the government’s clampdown on the issue is “wonderful news”.
She insisted that a zero tolerance approach is precisely what is needed to deal with this ongoing problem and could help to save many lives.
A consultation on the proposals opened on July 9th and interested parties and stakeholders have until September 17th to make their views known.
Among the issues respondents will be asked to consider is what kind of limit would be appropriate for amphetamine, as it does have various medical uses in some circumstances yet is often taken illegally as well.