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AA welcomes new offence of driving with a specified controlled drug in the body
The Government is introducing a new offence of driving or being in charge of a motor vehicle with a specified controlled drug in the body. The new offence is included in the Crime and Courts Bill, currently before Parliament. It will enable more effective law enforcement and help to keep our roads safe and is fully supported by the AA.
The Government has today published findings from its panel of medical and scientific experts providing technical advice on drugs to potentially be covered by the new offence.
The Government will carefully consider the Panel’s recommendations.
Later in the year the Government will make specific proposals regarding the drugs to be specified in regulations for the new offence. These proposals will be subject to a public consultation. After taking account of any responses received, regulations containing the final proposals would then need to be approved by Parliament before they could become law.
The AA has been campaigning for five years to tighten up enforcement of drug driving
Edmund King, AA president
Edmund King, AA president, said: “The AA has been campaigning for five years to tighten up enforcement of drug driving. Official figures suggest there are approximately 200 drug-related deaths on our roads each year but we believe that the figure is much higher as victims aren’t always routinely checked for drugs after crashes.
“The AA held a round table with the Home Office, police, Department for Transport, and medical and addiction experts on this issue in 2008 so is pleased to see progress at last. The experts have suggested drug limits set to mirror the limits for drink driving. If alcohol and drugs are both present, then the drug limit will be set lower. We know in the past that some young drivers have avoided drug detection by taking a small amount of alcohol so that if stopped they would not fail a breathalyser."
Ultimately the success of any new offence will be down to police enforcement, education and resources. The new offence would remove the need for police to carry out the somewhat cumbersome Field Impairment Tests (FIT) of standing on one leg etc.
We assume that more drug driving suspects would be screened and given blood tests at police stations and would be charged if over the specified drug levels. We hope that the new offence will deter drug drivers from driving with any level of illicit drugs in their system.
(7 March 2013)