A recent report by PACTS (Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety)[1] suggests that during 2019, 92 people were killed and 672 seriously injured in collisions where a driver was impaired by drugs. The true figure is likely to be much higher.

Driving offences:

• 12,391 people were convicted of a drug driving offence in 2019. This number has increased significantly since 2015.

• Nearly half (44%) of drug drive offences are committed by a reoffender.

Many of the drug driving offences are as a result of illegal drugs being taken. Drivers can also be unfit to drive through taking prescription and even over-the-counter medicines if they cause impairment affecting the ability to drive.

If you’re taking medication and not sure if you should drive, talk to your doctor, pharmacist or healthcare professional to seek advice on any side effects and how taking the medication might impact on your ability to drive.

The police can stop you and make you do a ‘field impairment assessment’ if they think your driving ability is being impaired due to drugs. This is a series of tests, for example asking you to walk in a straight line or testing your ability to judge time. They can also use a roadside drug analysing kit in the form of a ‘saliva mouth swab’ to screen for cannabis and cocaine.

If they think you’re unfit to drive because of taking drugs, you’ll be arrested and will have to take a blood or urine test at a police station.

You could be charged if the test shows you’ve taken drugs.

The penalties for drug driving if you are convicted are:

• a minimum 1-year driving ban

• an unlimited fine

• up to 6 months in prison

• a criminal record

RSGB supports the need for carefully constructed strategy to address the drug driving issue. The foundation of this strategy should be based on tapping into expert knowledge in the field, robust data collection of drug drive related collisions through roadside drug drive screening, investigate behaviour patterns of those that chose to drive whilst impaired by drugs and take forward proven educational and publicity interventions.

The ultimate aim should be to make drug driving as socially unacceptable as drink driving.

[1] PACTS Report – Drug Driving – The Tip of an Iceberg (Feb 2021)

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