Drugged up drivers facing tougher penalties

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People in St Helens are being warned about new drug driving laws being enforced this week.

From March 2 it will be illegal to drive with certain drugs above the specified blood levels, with low limits set for eight illegal drugs including cocaine and cannabis.

But as well as outlawed substances, there will also be legal medication included in the new legislation. However, anyone taking drugs as directed and driving is not impaired, it will not be breaking the law.

Those on the following drugs are recommended to speak to their doctor before driving: clonazepam, diazepam, flunitrazepam, lorazepam, methadone, morphine or opiate and opioid-based drugs, oxazepam and temazepam.

It’s hoped that the new legislation will make it easier for the police to catch and convict drug drivers.

Those convicted face a minimum one-year driving ban, a criminal record and a fine of up to £5,000.

A conviction for drug driving also means significantly increased car insurance costs and trouble travelling to countries such as America.

A spokesman for the police Traffic Unit has warned about the dangers of drug driving and also the effects that it can have on the motorist and others.”

He said : “Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is one of the top four contributing factors to deaths on our roads, along with speed, not wearing a seat belt and using a mobile phone.

“Drugs, whether they are over-the-counter or illegal, can affect driving in numerous ways and pose a serious risk to other road users.

“We’ve always been consistent in our ‘none for the road’ message and this applies to drugs as well as alcohol.

“Our officers continue to relentlessly target those suspected of driving under the influence of drugs and will continue to do so, using every tool at our disposal to catch those causing misery.”

For more information visit www.gov.uk/drug-driving-law.