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Drug driving crackdown

By Fiona Reid
Drug driving crackdown

MOTORISTS in Dumfries and Galloway now face the possibility of roadside drug tests as Scotland gets tougher on drug driving.

A new law which introduces strict drug drive limits came into effect today (Mon), with police now able to carry out immediate tests using ‘mouth swabs’ for any motorist they suspect of drug driving, or who have been involved in a collision or stopped for a traffic offence. If the test is positive, drivers will be arrested.

Police Scotland say that people are up to three times more likely to be killed or seriously injured in a road crash when driving after taking cannabis, rising to ten times for cocaine.

The new law means it is now easier to hold drug drivers to account as there is no requirement to prove that someone was driving in an impaired manner. 

There is a zero-tolerance approach to the eight drugs most associated with illegal use, including cannabis, heroin and cocaine. Drugs associated with medical use have limits based on impairment and road safety.

Chief Inspector Darren Faulds, area commander for Road Policing West, said: “With our partners, we are committed to reducing road casualties and deplore the devastating consequences of drug driving on victims, their families and communities.

“This new legislation gives my officers the powers to detect, at the roadside, those selfish motorists who risk the lives of others and themselves by driving after taking illegal substances. Hopefully this will act as a deterrent to those who are involved in the taking of illegal substances from getting behind the wheel of a vehicle.”

A drug drive conviction is both a criminal and driving offence. Upon conviction drivers will receive a minimum 12-month driving ban; 3-11 penalty points on their licence; a criminal record; up to six months in prison and/or a fine of up to a £5000.  

Cabinet Secretary for Justice Humza Yousaf said: “Driving a vehicle while under the influence of drugs is simply not acceptable. The consequences of causing a collision while under the influence can be devastating.

“I am grateful to Police Scotland, the Scottish Police Authority, and the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service for their hard work to prepare for the new laws coming into force.

“Alongside our stringent drink driving limits, these new curbs will ensure Scotland’s law enforcement agencies have the most robust powers in the UK to tackle impaired and unsafe driving in order to keep people safe.”

Photo above by Neil Hanna