Ahead of new legislation which comes into effect on 2 March 2015, the road safety group “Think!” is encouraging people who take prescription medications to check with their pharmacist or doctor whether they are safe to drive.
Drug-driving has become an increasing problem over the past few years, in contrast to the falling numbers of those convicted for drink-driving. Legislation is therefore being introduced to significantly lower the acceptable limits of certain drugs in the blood stream. Although the aim is to catch drivers who use recreational drugs such as cannabis and cocaine, a number of prescription drugs are included within the new law.
Restricted medications include: Clonazepam, Diazepam, Flunitrazepam, Lorazepam, Oxazepam, Temazepam, Methadone and Morphine.
Drivers who are prescribed these drugs should be aware of the new legislation. It is stressed that people who take a normal “prescription” dosage of such medications will not be prosecuted provided that their driving is not impaired. There is also a defence for drivers who have been taking medication as prescribed but are found to be over the limit, provided that they are not found to be impaired while driving.
William Broadbent of Penningtons Manches commented: “We welcome the introduction of new limits to cut down on drug-drivers. The campaign against drug-drivers is a little behind that of drink-driving, probably because of the continuing widespread practice of drink-driving and its social acceptance in spite of many years of campaigning.
“To prevent those who are rightfully taking medication from accidentally falling victim to the new laws, it is vitally important that anyone taking medication should check with their doctor whether they can legally drive.”