It is already illegal to drive whilst impaired by drugs – both prescription and recreational, legal and illegal. But a new law to be introduced on March 2nd will make it illegal to drive with more than a certain amount of some drugs – including commonly used medications – in your blood, even if your driving ability is not impaired.
Typically this applies to certain strong painkillers, as well as medications used to treat epilepsy or anxiety. Concern has been raised that some cough/cold remedies may also fall foul of the new law.
Police are being issued with new roadside testing kits that can detect drugs. If the test proves positive drivers could end up with one or more of the following:
- A 12-month driving ban.
- A fine of £5,000.
- 6 months in prison.
- A criminal record.
Even if found over the limit, there is a medical defence for a driver who has been taking medication as prescribed, as long as their driving is not impaired. But if you either take regular medication, or are given a new short-term prescription, you may wish to check with your doctor to make sure you are staying within the law.
More information can be found in the following places: