Drug driving laws come into force

A new law aimed at cracking down on people driving while on drugs is now in force in England and Wales.

For the first time ever, limits have been set for a range of illegal drugs and prescribed medicines and should bring detection of drug driving into line with drink driving enforcement.

The DfT said prosecutions have previously failed because of the difficulty in proving that a driver was impaired by a particular drug.

The new law states that it is now an offence to drive with certain drugs above specified blood levels in the body, whether your driving was impaired or not.

Limits have been set for drugs including heroin, cannabis, LSD and cocaine, plus medicines such as morphine and methadone.
Amphetamine is not yet included after concerns were raised that some people legitimately taking drugs to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder could find themselves above the proposed limit.

A limit for amphetamine is expected to be introduced at a later date.

Anton Balkitis, transport lawyer at Rothera Dowson, said: “The new law makes it illegal for you to drive with certain drugs in your blood, even if you are not unfit to drive. Haulage companies must therefore ensure their policies in regards to drugs and driving, including prescription medicines, are up to date and take account of these new changes.

“And as far as drivers are concerned, in addition to a possible prison sentence, a driving ban and a fine, a conviction is likely to result in the loss of your vocational licence as well; the consequences really could mean you losing your livelihood.”

Bristol set to pilot low emission zone

A pilot low emission zone (LEZ) affecting vehicles in Bristol is on the cards after the council said it was exploring funding options.

Bristol City Council would not be drawn on which type of vehicle would be targeted, but a local newspaper report claimed that HGVs would come within its scope.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has also given the council £30,000 to monitor the movements of HGVs in the city and research the freight and delivery needs of traders.

The Transport Research Laboratory has completed an LEZ feasibility study for the city, which a council spokesman said found that “although a low emission zone is feasible, it would come with significant initial setup costs”.

He added: “One of the approaches to improving air quality being considered by the council is the introduction of a Bristol Low Emission Zone. We are currently investigating the funding options available to pilot the concept to allow for a better understanding of the impacts.”

Despite many towns and cities investigating the potential of an LEZ, only London currently has a working zone that affects commercial vehicles.

  • This story was published in the 26 February issue of Commercial Motor. Why not susbcribe?