New drug driving laws catch up…

Police car sirens lit up

Scotland already has one of the strictest drink driving laws in the UK. The Scottish government now continues its campaign to make Scotland’s roads safer by introducing strict almost-zero tolerance laws regarding those driving under the influence of drugs.

The problems associated with the use of drugs cause misery throughout our society and the new law tackles an aspect of this with zero tolerance of the following drugs: benzoylecgonine; cocaine; delta–9–tetrahydrocannabinol (cannabis and cannabinol); ketamine; lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD); methylamphetamine; methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA – ecstasy) and 6-monoacetylmorphine (6-MAM – heroin and diamorphine).

It is hoped that this new law will deter those thinking about getting behind the wheel whilst they are under the influence of drugs and for those that do so, the procurator fiscal will no longer have to prove that their driving was impaired by drug use - it will be sufficient that drugs have been detected in their system.

The law has made the threshold almost zero to take into account those who may have had some minor accidental exposure to the drugs.

Alongside this new Law, Police Scotland are looking to improve detection rates. They have unveiled new roadside detection kits which will take a mouth swab from the driver’s mouth to detect if they are under the influence of cannabis or cocaine. The police will still use blood samples to test for other drugs.

Police Scotland hope that the new legislation and the ability to easily detect those driving under the influence of drugs will improve the number of drivers picked up for this offence however they ultimately hope to deter those thinking of committing this crime.

At present, around 200 drivers are caught each year for driving under the influence of drugs. When equivalent legislation was introduced in England and Wales, 8000 drivers were caught driving under the influence of drugs according to police reports.

The new law also affects those who take prescribed medication and does allow a medical defence if the driver can prove the drug has been taken in line with a prescription.

However if under the terms of use of the prescribed drug, they are prohibited from driving, then this defence is unavailable. 

Every day, we at Digby Brown see the devastating effects of those innocent parties that are caught up in the selfish actions of drivers driving under the influence of drugs.

We have had a number of cases where those driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol have mounted kerbs striking innocent pedestrians. The consequences for pedestrians are devastating where often the driver himself, protected by his car, comes off lightly.

We welcome these changes and hope it deters motorist getting behind the wheel under the influence of drugs.