New drug test for drivers hits UK roads

piatto di farmaci e drogaThere was good news this week when it was reported that the Police will now have the powers to test drivers for the influence of drugs. Police officers will no longer have to prove that a driver is impaired to drive, only that they have an illegal level of drugs in their system.

New laws such as these are often met with a mixed amount of approval. For instance, police speeding cameras have often been considered to be an elaborate way for the government to put extra funds in the budget. Although drivers on the whole welcomed the new law against “hogging the middle lane on a motorway” it has also been recognised that it is very hard to police. Usually it is those who subvert the law who kick up the fuss when as far as we can see if it goes some way in making the roads safer it has to be a good thing and should be welcomed.

At times there is a thin line between laws and guidance. Whereas it is not unlawful to eat while you are driving or manipulate a mobile phone we often see graphic adverts on our screens highlighting how foolish it is to do either.

60% unaware they are under the influence of drugs

Driving while under the influence of drugs has been due been under revision by the Metropolitan Police for some time. At the end of the day alcohol use on our roads is greatly restricted yet it is nothing more than a drug. The main difference between alcohol and such drugs as cannabis and cocaine is alcohol is legal and widely accepted for recreational use. But the new law will take prescribed drugs into account as well.

Research conducted by THINK! found that over 50% of those people who admitted to driving under the influence of drugs said they felt safe behind the wheel. 60% said they had driven a car when they were unsure whether they were said still under the influence.

“Illegal drugs impair skills required to drive”
Dr Kim Wolf, advisor for the government drug drive policy at King’s College London said “It is worrying to note that so many drug drivers said they felt safe to drive after taking illegal drugs. Illegal drugs seriously impair skills required to drive safely, such as reaction time and decision making. In many cases those who take certain illegal drugs believe that they are safe to drive, but are in fact putting themselves and others at risk.”
As well as tackling illegal drugs the police officers will also be able to test for prescription drugs which are often misused or have warnings not to be taken when operating machinery. These include lorazepam, temazepam, diazepam, clonazepam, and oxazepam.
Police officers will be able to take swabs from driver’s mouths and get a reading back within 10 minutes using DrugWipe Testing Kits. By swabbing the inside of the driver’s cheek they can test for cannabis and cocaine. They will also be able to test for the presence of ketamine, LSD, ecstasy and heroin.
Penalties could range from a year in prison to up to a £5000 fine.
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