In 2017, England and Wales introduced new Roadside drug tests limits for 17 prescription and illegal drugs. Drug offenders could be caught on the roads by a roadside swab test that was first used in March 2015.
In order to prosecute under old laws, Police had to prove that an individual’s driving was impaired as a result of drug use. However, the newest rules tests for 17 specific drugs and just like with alcohol, it is an offence to drive while under the influence of any of them.
For the most of the UK, the legal drink-drive limit is 80 mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood or 800,000 micrograms per litre. Scotland lowered their drink-drive limit to 50 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood in December 2014, which brought them more in line with the majority of other European countries.
Most prescription drug limits are above standard doses; the police have the authority to test and arrest drivers under this legislation if they are suspected of operating a vehicle above the new levels.
Different from the current ‘impairment’ offence, this regulation offers a medical defence if you are on prescription drugs in line with medical guidelines – as long as, obviously, you are not impaired.
If you are operating a vehicle while on prescription drugs, it is a good idea to have the drugs with you if you happen to be pulled over by the police.
What Are the Drug Driving Limits?
1. Benzoylecgonine (cocaine) – 50 micrograms per litre of blood (µg/L)
2. Cocaine – 10µg/L
3. Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (cannabis and cannabinol) – 2µg/L
4. Ketamine – 20µg/L
5. LSD – 1µg/L
6. Methylamphetamine – 10µg/L
7. MDMA (ecstasy) – 10µg/L
8. Heroin and diamorphine – 5µg/L
1. Clonazepam (used to treat seizures and panic disorder) – 50µg/L
2. Diazepam (anti-anxiety) – 550µg/L
3. Flunitrazepam (Rohypnol – sedative) – 300µg/L
4. Lorazepam (anti-anxiety) – 100µg/L
5. Methadone (heroin substitute) – 500µg/L
6. Morphine (pain relief) – 80µg/L
7. Oxazepam (anti-anxiety) – 300µg/L
8. Temazepam (anti-anxiety and sedative) – 1,000µg/L
9. Amphetamines (eg dexamphetamine used for conditions such as ADHD) – 250µg/L
Roadside Drug Test Detection Times
The maximum detection time for drugs in saliva is normally 72 hours. For some drugs it is a lot less. Cannabis, for example will clear in 12 hours or less after it was last used.
A saliva drug test is used by police as it looks to detect active impairment and will show positive for drugs that have been used within hours of the test being carried out, rather than days.
A drug-driving conviction will get you:
- A driving ban for at least 1 year
- A maximum £5,000 fine
- A criminal record
A drug-driving conviction will show on your licence and will remain there for 11 years.
If you have a job that involves driving, your conviction on the licence will be seen by your employer and it might be a problem travelling to some countries including the USA.
Is Roadside Drug-testing Making a Difference?
It appears to be as more than 50% of drivers believed to be under the influence of prohibited drugs testing positive.
The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) data shows that there has been a significant rise in drivers taking illegal drugs like cannabis and cocaine. In June 2017, 2022 people were stopped and 1084 (or 53.6%) had illegal drugs in their bloodstream. In a similar check in 2016, that percentage was only 39%.
Drug Driving in 2021
The police are very active in their quest to take drug drivers off of our roads. In 2021, some of the high profile drug driving incidents have included:
- A Blackburn doctor, convicted of driving under the influence of Cocaine – April 2021
- 26 drink and drug drivers named in south London courts – April 2021
- A driver, who had his four children in the car, tried to escape police while over the drug-drive limit – April 2021
- A drug driver, who left a woman with a broken neck, was jailed after taking cocaine and ketamine – May 2021
- Police clamp down on drug driving on the Isle of Wight – May 2021
Where Can I Buy a Drug Driving Test ?
Police use a drug testing device, often called a drugalyser, to check drivers for banned drugs. This type of test is actually a saliva drug test, in the form of a swab, which the can police can analyse at the side of the road
These easy-to use kits allow individuals and companies to test drivers in order to ensure that they are not over the legal limit for driving.
Urine Drug Driving Test
Our most popular 7 panel urine drug test also includes a screen for UK Police roadside drug test groups. A urine test will not confirm if a driver is currently under the influence of drugs, but it will show if any drugs of abuse have been used in recent days and weeks.
Saliva Drug Driving Test
The 7 Panel Saliva Drug Testing Kit from Zoom Testing will screen for many of the drugs that are now outlawed by the new legislation. This saliva drug test offers the best screening coverage for illicit substances as it checks for most of the drug groups that the police will be able to test for at the roadside, including, Cannabis, Cocaine, Opiates, Amphetamine, Methadone, and Benzodiazepines.
Zoom Testing is a leading UK drug testing company and a supplier of Drug Test Kits.
This post was originally published in August 2017.