On 2 March 2015, the Government’s new, stricter drug driving law went into effect in England and Wales with the aim of making it easier for the police to catch and convict drug drivers.
The law enforces limits for sixteen different drugs—eight that are generally prescribed and eight that are illegal—in an effort to lower the estimated 200 drug driving related UK deaths that occur each year.
These new restrictions will affect about 19 million prescription users a year, according to the Department for Transport, and there will be serious consequences for anyone who flouts the law.
Testing methods and consequences
If individuals are suspected of driving whilst under the influence they will be asked to do a ‘field impairment assessment’. This is a series of tests such as asking the driver to walk in a straight line. The police can also use a roadside drug kit to screen for cannabis and cocaine. In addition the new regulation gives police officers the power to carry out a saliva swab test at the roadside.
If the police then suspect that the driver is unfit to drive because of taking drugs, they will arrest the driver and a blood and urine test will be taken. If the test shows that the driver has taken drugs, the driver could be charged with a crime.
Drivers exhibiting any traces of the sixteen drugs above the new limits could receive:
- A minimum 12 month driving ban
- A criminal record
- A hefty fine or up to 6 months in prison or both
The tests only detect abnormal amounts of the drugs in an individual’s system. Passive (such as accidental inhalation of marijuana smoke at a party) or prescribed use is not expected to yield a positive test result – the limits on illicit drugs have been set at the lowest possible levels to rule out accidental exposure. Still, the Government recommends that drivers carry confirmation of their prescriptions.
How the new law may affect your business
Many employers have employees who are on the road in the course of their employment in a range of circumstances. If such an employee was to fall foul of the law, the employer would need to have thought in advance how they may want to react. Policies and procedures within the workplace should be reviewed so that the employer has the necessary flexibility to respond as they see fit.
In addition, since a vehicle used for company business is considered to be a place of work, employers must ensure the health and safety of employees even when they are driving, as well as ensuring that others are not put at risk by their employees’ work-related driving activities.
Below is the list of the sixteen drugs outlined in the law
Generally Prescription Drugs Used to Treat:
- Anxiety (flunitrazepam, diazepam, clonazepam, lorazepam, oxazepam, temazepam)
- Extreme pain (morphine)
- Drug addiction (methadone)
- Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD)
- Methylenedioxymethaphetamine (MDMA-Ecstasy)
- Heroin and diamorphine
For more information, please visit: www.gov.uk/drug-driving-law or talk to your local Lorica office.
Alternatively you can call 0333 4000 700 or email firstname.lastname@example.org