Drug-driving law set to be introduced in Queen's Speech

Traffic on a motorway The government believes the law change will make it easier for police to prosecute drug-drivers

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Drug-driving in England, Scotland and Wales could become a specific offence with a jail term and fine, under a new law expected in the Queen's Speech.

Police have to show driving has been impaired by drugs to prosecute.

But under the plans, drivers could face up to six months in jail for driving with certain controlled drugs in your body in excess of specified limits.

Road Safety Minister Mike Penning said legislation would give police powers to "remove this blight".

In the future, police will be equipped with handheld detection devices to test saliva at the roadside.

Offenders could face a fine of up to £5,000, a driving ban of at least 12 months as well as a prison term.

Mr Penning told BBC Breakfast it had taken so long to bring in such a law because testing had always been seen as "very complicated".

He said in Germany, Spain and Australia this was already being done.

"What we are saying is drug-driving is blighting this country and people are being killed and seriously injured on a regular basis.

"We don't know exactly how many because we're not testing correctly so bring the technology through, give the police the powers and remove this blight."

He said five different roadside saliva-testing devices were being considered at the Home Office which is expected to give approval by the end of the year.

Gary and Natasha Groves on their campaign against drug-driving after their daughter, Lillian, was killed

A scientific review panel is also looking at what drugs the devices would test for.

That panel has been considering a scientific case for a new offence and looking at the effect of individual drugs, such as cocaine and cannabis on driving.

The exact drugs covered by the offence and the specified limits for each will be decided following advice from the panel and public consultation.

"You'll be tested for drink first because, that's the natural assumption, that if a policeman thinks you're impaired, he'll test you for drink," said Mr Penning.

"If you pass that and he still thinks you're impaired, he's actually going to take a saliva swab from you at the side of the road so we're going to replicate what happens with drink for all the legislation going all the way through."

Start Quote

It's important, not just for us, but for other families to come”

End Quote Gary Groves

Roadside tests would give police the powers to arrest people for drug-driving.

"Then we're going to have a new piece of equipment in the station which will do exactly the same as what the drink testing does which will actually give the prosecution the evidential test to take you to court."

Gary Groves, whose 14-year-old daughter Lillian Groves was killed outside her home in Croydon, south London, by a driver who admitted taking drugs before the accident, said the legislation was "very important".

"It's important, not just for us, but for other families to come," he told Breakfast.

"Hopefully we can get this through - we're trying to push for zero tolerance but we'll just keep pushing and pushing."

Lillian's mother Natasha Groves said other parents had come forward.

"You think you are on your own but obviously there is a far wider problem, it is not just not us out there on our own. It happens all the time."

'Not acceptable'

Joanna Bailey, from road safety charity Brake, told BBC News: "Drink-driving's not acceptable, it's not acceptable to drug-drive either."

The law is to be included in the Crime, Communications and Court Bill.

Prime Minister David Cameron said they wanted to get "drugalysers rolled out more quickly".

Mr Cameron, who met the Groves family last year, said: "As they said at the time, it simply can't be right that a schoolgirl like Lillian can lose her life and then we discover we don't have the laws or the technology to punish drug-drivers properly.

"I hope now that something good can come out of their tragic loss."

The proposed law affects motorists in England, Scotland and Wales.

Northern Ireland's Department of the Environment said it was working towards creating an offence of driving with a "named substance in your body".

A spokeswoman said it was currently illegal to drive in Northern Ireland whilst impaired through drink or drugs.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 343.

    Unquantifiable.I have behaved most of my life.But 2 months ago i got POLIS Celled,honestly dont ask.No Nicotine for me,but every person in the Cells got their Valium,Methadone and GOD knows what else.Make sense of that please?

  • rate this

    Comment number 342.

    It would be better if they said "No new laws for the next three years. We'll just focus on getting the economy working and the existing Gov't Depts working properly."

  • Comment number 341.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 340.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 339.

    I second Malfuros and add, without the willingness of the police to enforce them, what use are all of these laws.

  • rate this

    Comment number 338.

    Driving when affected by drugs is not acceptable but nor is a hurried inadequately researched testing programme. I have long felt that local police occupy a lot of their time chasing Class C drug users and growers-easy targets for clear up rates. What of prescription drugs and of the proof of impairment at any given level of any individual drug? Surely it would take years to establish accuracy?

  • rate this

    Comment number 337.

    about time!

  • rate this

    Comment number 336.

    Insanity - a huge majority of the population are on drugs. Just think of how common high blood pressure, diabetes, asthma, high cholesterol etc are to name but a few for which drugs are (legally) prescribed. Shall we jail them all? This will be a licence for the police to lock up whomsoever they wish at will. Is there space in the prisons? Who will run the country if half of us are jailed?

  • rate this

    Comment number 335.

    284.Leigh Oats
    Having being entertained by this discussion thread I see the usefulness of a drug-writing law.
    why what have people who write about clinical trials been saying in this thread? see-
    and you haven't answered my questions yet! seems a bit rude.

  • rate this

    Comment number 334.

    Young drivers speed on and old drivers dither and are slow,Quantify that.

    Why dont we all stop driving,wouldnt that be fun.BBC right now says they really dont know what they are on about.Also if you Drink you take Drugs also.Tarred twice with one brush.Watch out for Night Nurse also.

  • rate this

    Comment number 333.

    Why not ban politicians seeing as 600 of them has caused this country far more harm than drink and drug driving combined

  • rate this

    Comment number 332.

    If your driving is impaired why not use existing driving legislation eg 'without due care and attention'. If it cannot be shown that driving is impaired, what's the problem?
    My hayfever meds make me sleepy for 3 months a year. Should I not drive and lose my job?

  • rate this

    Comment number 331.

    For all those who think this law should NOT be imposed, speak to the families who are the victims. Be it drink or drugs nobody's brain is completely alert when under the influence. The one thing everybody has to remember is a driver is in control of a killing machine. It is to this end that everyone should be in a correct state of mind when driving.

  • rate this

    Comment number 330.

    Penal sentence is not the answer, but neither are present sentences enough to deter it, we witness that everyday with so many drivers on the road without licences, or valid insurances.

    If society is to tolerate this crime, they also need to be forced to do something in return, so society can actualy see that they are being assessed properly.

  • rate this

    Comment number 329.

    How to over complicate things and waste money, its simple you take illegal drugs then you cannot drive should you drive then you have broken the law if you test positive it should carry an automatic ban. we have drink drive limit because its legal to drink so people may drive and we need to know when its not ok to do so., prescription drugs and their affect on driving are easily determined

  • rate this

    Comment number 328.

    If you have an incident crash/bumpThats the LAW,fair enough.But if its for no reason,thats a different story.That would constitute too being harassment.Which i would imagine is a breach of your rights?

  • rate this

    Comment number 327.

    319. No argument there but I was referring to drug users. How many users of alcohol are able to accept that alcohol is even a drug? No point muddying the water yet further...

  • rate this

    Comment number 326.

    The reality is that this perverse and greedy government are attempting to profiteer on the emotional distress of a couple whose daughter was killed by an unfit driver. I doubt if it had been a drunk driver there would be this level of interest from them. I do hope this will open the floodgates to the ‘Legalise’ debate... and hopefully rid us of Tory bile and oppression.

  • rate this

    Comment number 325.

    “under the plans, drivers could face up to six months in jail”
    Yet studies on the subject have shown that jail sentences of less than a year are a waste of time and tax payers’ money. Will not work as a deterrent nor be of use for rehabilitation. Sounds like an ignorant politician(s) chose the jail term for the sake of a jail term without understanding the whole point of jail.

  • rate this

    Comment number 324.

    Yet more waffle from a govenment that has run out of ideas. What to do, fix the economy and help millions, or persecute a few thousand drivers?


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