Evaluation of the new drug driving legislation, one year after its introduction

Organisation: Department for Transport
Date uploaded: 6th September 2017
Date published/launched: August 2017

Access to improved screening equipment means motorists are now just as likely to be convicted for driving under the influence of drugs as they are for drink driving, according to this Government research.The DfT says the better technology means courts are punishing drug drive offenders in record numbers, and that new drug driving laws are ‘taking more dangerous drivers off roads’.

The research shows that conviction rates have risen to 98%. The study also shows that of the drivers who underwent a preliminary drug screening, approximately 94% were male and 64% were aged between 16-29 years.

Introduced in March 2015, the legislation makes it illegal in England and Wales to drive with certain drugs in the body above specified levels. This includes eight illegal drugs and eight prescription drugs.

The new law is also designed to make it easier to catch and convict drug drivers, with police forces given access to improved screening equipment to test suspected drug drivers for cannabis and cocaine at the roadside.

Under the law, police forces are now able to test for other drugs – such as ecstasy and ketamine – at a police station with a blood test, even if a driver passes the roadside check.

Before the new law came into force, police would have to gather evidence that the driver was impaired, which would include carrying out tests or getting a medical opinion, before being able to take a blood or urine sample at a station.

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