Road safety organisations have welcomed the introduction of new legislation to make it easier for the police to detect and prosecute drug drivers.
The IAM described the new drug-driving laws as “a big step forward for road safety”.
Sarah Sillars, IAM CEO, said: “The new law is a real step in the right direction for the eradication of driving under the influence of drugs.
“Many drugs impair the senses to a massive degree – if you are not in full control of your vehicle, you become a severe danger to yourself, your passengers and other road users. It is a self-centred action and those committing it are now being punished with the full force of the law. Now at last, there is a real deterrent.”
While welcoming the new laws, the RAC warned that the new legislation has implications for drivers who use drugs for medicinal purposes.
Simon Williams, RAC spokesman, said: "The introduction of this new offence sends out a clear message to users of banned substances that driving while under the influence is not acceptable and can now be detected with drugalyser devices.
"However, it has the potential to affect hundreds of thousands of people who use certain drugs for medicinal purposes. Motorists should keep copies of their prescriptions on them at all times, and discuss the effect of their medication with a doctor."
TTC Group, specialists in driver education, praised the Government for tightening up drug driving laws.
Des Morrison, TTC Group managing director, said: “It will make it easier to tackle drug driving which the DfT estimates leads to 200 deaths each year.
“We have been campaigning for years for action to be taken against those whose driving is impaired by drugs and this new law will make our roads safer. Drug driving will become as anti social as drink driving is now.”
While expressing delight at the introduction of a tougher drug drive law, the road safety charity Brake also called for a halt in the decline in number of traffic police officers.
Julie Townsend, Brake’s deputy chief executive, said: “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.
“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.”