New drug driving legislation came into force from 2 March 2015 in England and Wales
In March 2015 a new drug driving law was introduced in England and Wales.
The new rules set 'zero tolerance' limits for 8 illegal drugs and 'risk based' limits for 8 prescription drugs estimated to be included in 19 million prescriptions every year.
Under the new (additional) offence the police need only obtain a blood sample and show that any of the specified drugs are present above the specified limit.
The limits are higher than normal prescribed doses which means that you will be able to drive as normal, so long as:
If you are taking any of the specified 'medicinal' drugs:
There will be a medical defence if you have been taking medication as directed and are found to be over the limit, but not impaired.
The offence of driving while impaired by drugs remains.
If the police stop you and suspect that your driving may be impaired by drugs they can assess your capability to drive using a series of field impairment tests (pupil dilation, counting out loud, walking in a straight line etc.) and must prove, through a subsequent blood test, that drugs have caused any impairment observed.
The AA fully supports the new offence which will enable more effective law enforcement and help to keep our roads safe.
In fact, the AA has been campaigning for years to tighten up enforcement of drug driving, starting with a round table organised with the Home Office, police, Department for Transport, and medical and addiction experts in 2008.
Ultimately the success of this new offence will be down to police enforcement, education and resources.
(updated 22 March 2016)