CASUALTY REDUCTION OFFICER BARRY GARDNER TALKS ABOUT DRUG DRIVING
A year ago a new law came into place to address the increased number of people driving while under the influence of drugs. Since March 2015 drivers are routinely tested for drugs as well as drink at the road side.
It has long-since been the practice that drivers have been tested at the roadside if they are suspected of drinking and driving. The extra powers that the police have now enable them use testing kits on drivers that they suspect of driving under the influence of drugs.
The kit uses a simple mouth swab to obtain a roadside sample. The swab is tested there and then to provide an indicator of drugs in the system. If this proves positive at the roadside the driver is arrested on suspicion of driving while under the influence of drink or drugs and taken to a police station where a further, more extensive blood test is obtained.
Since the new laws came into place over 100 drivers in the Humber region have been roadside tested and 70% of those tested proved positive.
Humberside Police Casualty Reduction Officer Barry Gardner says, “These drivers were all tested because the police officer had suspicion that the driver had taken a drug. The results speak for themselves – 70% of the drivers had indeed been taking drugs and then got behind the wheel of their car.
“All Roads Policing officers are trained to detect drivers who are under the influence of drugs, there are a worrying number of drivers now caught drug driving and this test has proved efficient over the past year to help us detect drugs present in the driver.”
“The public can help us too, if you suspect someone is going to take drugs and drive you can phone the police on the non-emergency number 101. We will act on information received by members of the public so I would encourage people to report any such incident to us immediately.”
What is it all about?
- The law changed in 2015 in England and Wales to make it easier for the police to catch and convict drug drivers.
- A drug drive conviction will have a serious effect on your life including a criminal record, a minimum 12 month driving ban and a fine of up to £5,000. It could also cost you your job.
- Drugs impair your driving. Get caught and you will have to suffer the shame of your family, friends and colleagues knowing you’re a drug driver.
- It is illegal to drive with certain drugs above specified blood levels in the body. Limits are set at very low levels for eight illegal drugs such as cannabis and cocaine.
- Some medicines will also be included in the new law but if you are taking medicines as directed and your driving is not impaired, then you are not breaking the law.
- The new legislation will make it easier for the police to tackle drug drivers.
What will it mean for prescription drug users?
The new law and legislation covers both illegal drugs and prescription drugs.
- Certain medicines may affect your ability to drive.
- The law also includes eight medicines that are sometimes abused that have been set at higher limits to reflect their use as medicines, with limits based on the available evidence of the road safety risk. These medicines are:
- morphine used to treat pain – opiate/opioid based medication will metabolise (chemically change) into morphine and show in a blood result
- diazepam, clonazepam, flunitrazepam, lorazepam, oxazepam, temazepam used to treat anxiety or inability to sleep
- methadone used to treat drug addiction
- Amphetamine used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and Parkinson’s disease are also planned to be included.
If you are taking your medicine as directed and your driving is not impaired then you are not breaking the law
To find out more ask your doctor or a member of the pharmacy team. www.gov.uk/drug-driving-law
Drink or Drug Driving - the consequences are the same
If you are convicted you will receive:
- A minimum 12 month driving ban
- A criminal record
- A fine of up to £5,000 or up to six months in prison or both
The consequences of a drug drive conviction are far reaching and can include:
- Job loss
- Loss of independence
- The shame of having a criminal record
- Increase in car insurance costs
- Trouble getting in to countries like the USA
Barry Gardner says, “The public can help us too, if you suspect someone is going to take drugs and drive you can phone the police on the non-emergency number 101. We will act on information received by members of the public so I would encourage people to report any such incident to us immediately.”
You can also phone Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or report anonymously on the Crimestoppers website www.crimestopppers-uk.org.