When speaking with alcoholics, many will often tell me that they do not drink and drive – it is something that is drummed into us by the government, particularly around Christmas time, and as a consequence most of us have a social conscience that prevents us from crossing this line. Interestingly though, I have not noticed the same pattern around drug users and I believe this is because there is less awareness around the impact of driving whilst under the influence of narcotics or indeed certain prescription medications.
However, ministers are now considering a new law whereby every driver involved in an accident would be subjected to compulsory drug testing. Unfortunately, there is the issue of ascertain what level of substance present indicates the person’s driving ability is impaired. For me this seems fairly simple; anyone found to have illegal drugs in their system having had an accident is considered to be to blame. Controversial I know, but in my opinion, the softness of certain laws and sentences contributes to some of the problems in society today. Unfortunately, being realistic, I know that cannot happen – it would perhaps be hypocritical to prosecute those using illegal substances but not those who have a prescription, especially if the side-effects of those medications were the same as narcotics.
The Transport-commissioned reports has set out proposed thresholds as follows that indicate when a person is likely to become impaired as a result of the substances in their system:
Cocaine: 5 micrograms per litre of blood
Amphetamines: 600 micrograms per litre of blood
Ecstasy: 300 micrograms per litre of blood
THC (the active ingredient in cannabis): 5 micrograms per litre of blood.
The limit would be lower if the person had also consumed alcohol due to the likelihood of this exacerbating their impaired driving ability.
Offenders found guilty of drug driving will face an automatic ban of at least twelve months, up to six months in jail and up to a £5000 fine.
So next time you or a friend are considering driving after a joint, or after a night out taking party drugs, consider what it could cost you – all of the above as well as lives.
If you need advice about and drug addiction or to find out how to get treatment, contact us today on freephone 0800 44 88 688 or text HELP to 66777.