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Drug driving charges more than doubled last year

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The number of motorists who have been charged with drug-driving has soared following changes in the law last year.

New legislation was introduced in March 2015 which added a number of over-the-counter medicines to the list of banned substances and sought to close loopholes in the law.

At the same time police were also given new powers to deploy “drugalysers” at the roadside, which enabled them to detect the presence of a range of commonly-used narcotics.

A Freedom of Information request has revealed that the changes appear to have led to a significant increase in the number of people being prosecuted for driving under the influence of drugs.

In 2015, 2,090 drivers were charged with the offence, compared to just 870 the year before.

The FoI request showed that most motorists were found to have taken illegal substances such as cannabis or cocaine, but charges have also been brought for the use of prescription drugs such as diazepam and codeine.

Matt Lloyd, from the website Confused.com, which collated the statistics, said there was a cause for concern that many motorists remained unaware that certain medicines can generally impaired their ability to drive safely.

“This is particularly alarming given the current time of year, especially as more than a third of motorists admit to suffering from hayfever, with many resorting to medication to help combat the symptoms – despite the potential risks of drowsiness and reduced concentration levels.”

The penalties that can be imposed for breaking drug driving laws include a minimum one-year driving ban, an unlimited fine and up to six months in prison.

If you are facing a charge for an offence committed while driving, it is important to seek legal advice at the earliest opportunity to ensure the best possible representation. For further details about how Lester Morrill’s road traffic team can help you, please contact us.

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