New offence of 'Drug Driving' to come into force on 2nd March 2015

Posted by Tim Williamson on
Motorists are reminded that the new offence of "drug driving" will come into force on 2 March 2015.  This new offence will be in addition to the existing offence of driving / in control of a motor vehicle whilst impaired through drugs. 

There has for some time been concern amongst road safety experts and campaigners at how difficult and expensive it apparently is for the police to prove that a motorist is impaired by a particular drug at the time of driving. 

The recommended limits for 16 drugs have now been approved with 8 prescription and 8 illegal drugs added to new Regulations that will come into force in England and Wales on 2 March 2015. 




50 mg/L


10 mg/L

Delta-9-tetrahydrocannibinol (Cannabis)

2 mg/L


20 mg/L

Lysergic Acid Diethylamamide

1 mg/L


10 mg/L


10 mg/L

6 Monoacetylmorphine (Heroin)

5 mg/L






250 mg/L


50 mg/L


550 mg/L


300 mg/L


100 mg/L


500 mg/L


80 mg/L


300 mg/L


1000 mg/L

Under the Regulations it is envisaged that the police will carry out saliva tests at the side of the road to test for the presence of any of the drugs above.  If the motorist fails the test then they will be taken to the police station where they will be required to provide a blood test which will then be sent for analysis. 

Motorists will no doubt be concerned at the prospect of driving when they have taken prescribed medication.  There will however be a medical defence if the motorist is taking medication in accordance with instructions – either from a Health Care Professional or printed in the accompanying leaflet as long as the motorist is not also impaired.   Motorists are advised to ensure that they keep evidence of any prescription with them at all times whilst driving.

It is envisaged that the sentence for the new offence will mirror sentencing for the existing offence(s) of driving a motor vehicle having consumed excess alcohol ie a convicted motorist will be subject to a mandatory driving ban of at least 12 months with a theoretical maximum punishment of a £5,000 fine and / or 6 months imprisonment.  The offence will therefore appear on a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check. 

Commenting on the new Regulations Tim Williamson from Blake Morgan's Motoring Offences Team said, "The creation of this new offence represents a significant development in the law.  The police will no longer have to prove that a motorist is / was impaired after they had taken a particular drug.  We imagine it will be difficult for a motorist to know with any accuracy whether they are over the legal limits referred to in the Regulations and so will have to act with the utmost caution.   If medication has been prescribed then it will be vitally important for motorists to retain any related documentation".

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Tim is a leading Criminal and Regulatory lawyer, who defends businesses and individuals under investigation by the police and regulatory bodies and when accused of criminal offences.

Tim Williamson
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