Driving restrictions take another turn later this year, with the introduction of new limits on the use of 16 drugs while behind the wheel.
After major rethink of the system, involving two consultation periods, the Government will impose the new regulations in the autumn.
The recommended limits for the drugs which have been added to the Government list will distinguish between eight legal, prescribed, drugs and eight illegal drugs. The new rules will mean it will be an offence to drive and to be over the generally prescribed limits for each drug, bringing the law on drug-driving into line with drink-driving.
Like drink driving, there will be no "zero tolerance" approach because it has been recognised that drugs taken for medical conditions can be absorbed in the body, to produce trace effects. The regulations will also recognise that different drugs are broken down at different speeds and that will be reflected in the differences between the limits.
The Government is now working with the medical profession to ensure healthcare professionals and patients are taught about the new drug-driving offence. An advertising campaign later in the year will make drivers aware of the changes to the law.
The limits to be included in the new regulations are:
1Benzoylecgonine, 50 µg/L
2 Cocaine, 10 µg/L
3 Delta–9–Tetrahydrocannabinol (Cannabis and Cannabinol), 2 µg/L
4 Ketamine, 20 µg/L
5 Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD), 1 µg/L
6 Methylamphetamine - 10 µg/L
7 Methylenedioxymethaphetamine (MDMA – Ecstasy), 10 µg/L
8 6-Monoacetylmorphine (6-MAM – Heroin and Morphine), 5 µg/L
Generally prescription drugs
1 Clonazepam, 50 µg/L
2 Diazepam, 550 µg/L
3 Flunitrazepam, 300 µg/L
4 Lorazepam, 100 µg/L
5 Methadone, 500 µg/L
6 Morphine, 80 µg/L
7 Oxazepam, 300 µg/L
8 Temazepam, 1000 µg/L
From this autumn, drivers who take prescribed drugs and those bought over the counter will need to be very aware of their effects. This will apply to many pick-me-ups that deal with flu and cold symptoms – perfectly timed for autumn.