Drug driving limits to be formally introduced

A police breathalyser. Picture: TSPLA police breathalyser. Picture: TSPL
A police breathalyser. Picture: TSPL
PROPOSED drug-driving limits for 16 recreational and prescription drugs were unveiled by the UK government yesterday ahead of their introduction south of the Border in the autumn.

However, the Scottish Government said it would “monitor developments” before deciding whether to follow suit.

A motoring group said Scotland should also adopt the new limits, which have been recommended by experts, so as not to be left behind the rest of the UK.

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The cocaine limit will be 10 micrograms per litre of blood. The cannabis limit will be 2mcg/L and LSD 1mcg/L. Ketamine will have a 20mcg/L limit, with MDMA, ecstasy and crystal meth having a 10mcg/L limit. Heroin will have a 5mcg/L limit.

Limits have also been set for morphine, methadone, clonazepam, diazepam, flunitrazepam, lorazepam, oxazepam and temazepam. The limits will be enforced by police using new “drugalyser” machines, similar to breathalysers.

UK ministers said the Scottish Government had told them it would carry out its own consultation on the issue later this year.

Officers currently have to prove drivers are impaired via roadside tests, such as for co-ordination and balance, or by analysing physical cues such as pupil dilation. These are

followed by blood or urine

samples taken at a police station.

UK road safety minister Robert Goodwill said: “The results of the consultation are sending the strongest possible message that you cannot take illegal drugs and drive.”

Edmund King, president of the Automobile Association, said: “There are around 200 drug-related deaths on our roads each year but we believe the figure is much higher as victims aren’t always routinely checked for drugs after crashes.”

The Institute of Advanced Motorists said the new limits should also be introduced in Scotland. Neil Greig, its Scotland-based policy and research director, said: “The legislative and consultative process has been going on for over two years now and the Scottish Government need to act quickly so Scottish drivers have the same protection as those south of the Border. If things are moving forward in England and Wales, Scotland should not be left behind.

“The limits are based on high-level recommendations, and I cannot see anything more

informed than that in Scotland.”

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A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “Our police, prosecutors and courts can use long-standing powers which means it is an offence to be in charge of a vehicle while impaired through drink or drugs. Our priority is the planned lowering of the drink-drive limit as a major step towards making the country’s roads safer.”

The limits in full (micrograms of substance per litre of blood)

Benzoylecgonine 50mcg/L

• Clonazepam 50mcg/L

• Cocaine 10mcg/L

• Cannabis & Cannabino 2mcg/L

• Diazepam 550mcg/L

• Flunitrazepam 300mcg/L

• Ketamine 20mcg/L

• Lorazepam 100mcg/L

• LSD 1mcg/L

• Methadone 500mcg/L

• Methamphetamine 10mcg/L

• MDMA & Ecstasy 10mcg/L

• Heroin 5mcg/L

• Morphine 80mcg/L

• Oxazepam 300mcg/L

• Temazepam 1,000mcg/L