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UK Government proposes drug driving offence

The UK Government is proposing to introduce a new offence of being in charge of a motor vehicle with a controlled drug in the body. Announcing the measures, Road Safety Minister, Stephen Hammond, said, “Drug driving is a menace on our roads with an estimated 200 drug driving-related deaths a year in Britain. The government has a zero tolerance approach to illegal drug use and it is important that we send the strongest possible message that you cannot take illegal drugs and drive. In order to tackle this threat to safety on our roads, the government is introducing a new offence of driving or being in charge of a motor vehicle with a specified controlled drug in the body. The new offence is included in the Crime and Courts Bill, currently before Parliament. It will enable more effective law enforcement and help to keep our roads safe.”

Hammond continued, “Last spring, the department commissioned a panel of medical and scientific experts to provide technical advice on drugs to potentially be covered by the new offence. The panel has concluded its work and I have published their report; ‘Driving Under the influence of drugs’. I would like to thank Dr Kim Wolff and the Panel for the significant work undertaken in analyzing a vast amount of research in this area and for making their recommendations, which the government will carefully consider. In doing so, we are clear that the design of the new offence must send the strongest possible message that you cannot take any amount of illegal drugs and drive.”

Hammond added, “At the same time the government must consider the position of those who legitimately and safely use medicines that may contain controlled drugs. We recognize that for the purposes of drug testing, distinguishing between those drugs which do have medical uses and those which do not, is complex. We must ensure that the new offence would not unduly penalize drivers who have taken properly prescribed or supplied drugs in line with medical advice. Later in the year, we will make specific proposals regarding the drugs to be specified in regulations for the new offence. The proposals will be subject to a public consultation and approved by Parliament, before they could become law.”

March 11, 2013

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