Motorists on prescription drugs can now be jailed as new regulations come into force today to crackdown on drug drivers.
Police are now able to use “drugalysers” at the roadside to see if motorists are above prescribed limits of prescription drugs, as well as illegal substances such as cannabis and cocaine.
Low levels limits have been set for eight illegal drugs, and higher levels set for prescription drugs including diazepam (used for anxiety disorders, alcohol withdrawal symptoms or muscle spasms) and methadone (used in the treatment of heroin addiction and for pain relief).
The new rules are in addition to the existing law where it is an offence to drive when impaired by any drug.
Drivers already faced prison for up to six months, £5,000 fine and one-year driving ban if caught using drugs while driving.
Those using prescription drugs within recommended guidelines will not be penalised.
Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive, Brake, said: “Drug driving wrecks lives, and it is a crime for which there is no excuse. We are delighted that our long-running campaign for a tougher law is finally seeing success. We believe the government is doing the right thing by taking a zero tolerance approach; we hope this will make it clear that driving on any amount of drugs won’t be tolerated. Anyone tempted to drive on drugs should be in absolutely no doubt of the penalties they face for endangering people’s lives and that it simply isn’t worth the risk. We will continue to campaign for further action to stamp out risky, illegal driving that ends and ruins lives daily. The crucial next step to back up this and other vital life-saving traffic laws is for government to give greater priority to traffic policing, to ensure the recent trend of falling traffic police numbers is reversed.”