Roads minister Stephan Hammond said, “Drug driving is a menace which devastates families and ruins lives.  That is why we are proposing to take a zero tolerance approach with those who drive under the influence of illegal drugs and sending a clear message that this behaviour will not be tolerated.”

Previously, driving after using drugs was only an offence if it could be proven that the motorist’s driving was impaired, requiring roadside coordination tests. The proposed plans, however, will bring drug testing machines to police stations and roadside devices to detect even trace amounts.

Police would be able to carry out up to three preliminary saliva tests and, if positive, require a blood sample to be taken. Officers need only prove that the driver has taken drugs.

The crackdown is expected to save more than 100 lives and prevent at least 500 serious injuries on the roads each year.

Mr Hammond named eight illegal drugs that, if found in anything more than a trace amount in a driver, could mean a year-long driving ban, six months jail time, and a fine up to £5,000. These drugs include: cannabis, cocaine, ecstasy, heroin, ketamine, benzoylecgonine, methamphetamine, LSD.

“We have also put forward our proposals for dealing with drivers who use specific prescribed drugs,” Mr Hammond added.

“We know that the vast majority of people who use these drugs are doing so responsibly and safely and that is why our approach does not unduly penalise drivers who have taken properly prescribed medicines.”

Controlled drugs with medical uses, such as clonazepam and lorazepam, will have higher thresholds, as the proposal is not aimed to penalise drivers who take drugs under medical advice. 

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