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Warning over implications of new drug-driving laws

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Motorists who take copious amounts of over-the-counter medicines could be stripped of their licence under tough new drug-driving laws.

The new regime, which comes into force next month, will introduce limits on levels of certain drugs in a driver’s bloodstream.

While the offence tends to be associated with illegal substances such as cannabis and cocaine, motoring organisations have warned that drivers who have taken heavy doses of cold and flu remedies could fall foul of the new legislation.

This is because the medicines, readily available at pharmacists around the country, contain substances such as morphine, methadone and diazepam. These can lead to drowsiness, slowing motorists’ reaction times and impairing judgement.

Edmund King, president of the AA, said: “People who feel under the weather sometimes overdose themselves. There could be instances where someone has had a late night because they felt ill and knew they had to be on the road at 6am – they could be over the limit.”

PC Jon Lansley, a drug detection officer from the Hampshire constabulary, added: “These drugs make it clear they can affect driving on the labels, but often when drivers feel unwell they dose themselves up on these and don’t realise the consequences.”

The new drug driving laws, modelled on those that already apply to alcohol, will be enforced through roadside tests. Those found breaking the law face a minimum 12 month ban, plus a possible fine and – in the most serious cases – a custodial sentence.

The legislation takes effect from March 2nd and ministers hope that it will make the roads safer – at present as many as 200 fatal accidents a year are linked to drivers who have got behind the wheel after taking drugs.

At Lester Morrill, our road traffic team has a wealth of experience representing those facing drug driving charges. To find out more about how our Leeds-based solicitors can help you, contact us today.