Crack down on drug driving gets closer

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Tough new measures to crack down on drug driving have moved a step closer after the Government issued new guidance to healthcare professionals.

The new offence of driving with certain controlled drugs, including some prescription drugs, above specified limits is due to come into force on 2nd March, 2015.

The guidance helps doctors and nurses start explaining the new rules in advance of the launch to reassure those patients who take prescription drugs that they will be able to drive safely without fear of being prosecuted.

The new advice, which has been developed with support from the medical profession, advises general practitioners, doctors, nurses and health advisers on changes to the drug driving offence and what it means for patients.

Police can already prosecute drivers if they are driving whilst impaired by drugs, including medicinal drugs. The new rules will mean it will be an offence to be over the specified limits for each drug whilst driving, as it is with drink driving. The limits for the vast majority of medicinal drugs are above the normal doses.

Unlike the existing ‘impairment’ offence, the new law provides a medical defence for patients who are taking their medicine in accordance with instructions - either from a healthcare professional or printed in the accompanying leaflet - provided they are not impaired. The guidance also advises patients who take legitimately supplied medicines to keep evidence with them in case they are stopped by police.