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Changes to UK drug driving laws announced

Drug driving laws have been updated in the UK, placing new legal limits on both illegal substances and prescribed medication.

The Highway Code now sets low levels for eight illegal drugs – so even a small amount could lead to prosecution – and higher levels for eight prescription drugs, including methadone and morphine.

The new laws will sit alongside existing regulations, which state it is an offence to drive under the influence of any illegal drug.

Police will be able to test drivers for drug use at the roadside using ‘drugalyser’ devices, and anyone found to be impaired could face a fine of up to £5,000, as well as up to six months in prison and a one-year minimum driving ban.

Drivers taking prescribed medication should seek advice from their doctor or pharmacist before getting behind the wheel. The new laws state that anyone found to be over the limit can defend themselves on medical grounds, as long as they can prove they were following instructions and their driving was not affected by the medication.

Learner drivers who want to find out more about the full implications of driving under the influence of prescribed and illegal drugs can do so in module 22 of RED’s Road Brain Trainer – an eLearning programme that’s provided free of charge to all RED Learners.

For regular reminders of driving regulations in the UK, follow the Highway Code on Facebook or Twitter.