Government to take hard-line on drug drivers

00.00 | 30 November 2011 |

Motorists who get behind the wheel while impaired by prescribed drugs will face prosecution under new laws to be unveiled next month (Telegraph).

The new laws will also apply to drivers who take ‘legal highs’, and possibly over the counter remedies too. They come against a backdrop of mounting concern at the abuse of painkillers, sleeping tablets and other pills which can impair co-ordination and driving performance, according to the Telegraph report.

Drivers will also face prosecution if they take their car onto the road with illegal substances in their bloodstream, as the Government looks to close a series of loopholes governing drug driving.

Tackling drug driving has been identified as a key priority by David Cameron, who has backed moves to tighten the law with a series of clauses in the Justice Bill, reports the Telegraph.

Other moves will see the rapid introduction of drug testing equipment, initially at police stations, before being distributed to patrol cars for roadside checks.

It has also been reported that ministers will end the anomaly which has seen drivers involved in fatal accidents while under the influence of drugs, receiving lighter sentences than would have been the case had they been drinking.

Earlier this year the DfT set up a panel of technical experts to examine how to update the law to make getting behind wheel having taken an illegal drug an offence, which is likely to carry similar penalties to those imposed for drink driving.

An AA spokesman said: “We would very much welcome the new offence. However, there will need to be a very careful examination of the detail especially regarding prescribed medication.”

Robert Gifford, executive director of the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS), said: “The important issue will be for the police to continue to enforce those actions which we know already kill such as drink driving and driving dangerously.”

Click here to read the full Telegraph report.


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