March 16, 2015

Are New Drug-Driving Laws Appropriate?

On the whole the new drug-driving laws that have now come into force have been welcomed as a reform that is well overdue. Officers can now test for drugs like cocaine and cannabis at the roadside with a new “drugalyser” while they can request samples for other illegal substances at a police station.

However, the new laws have been criticised for being unnecessarily wide. Drug-drivers usually fall into two very different – illegal and legal – camps. The first includes those who consume banned narcotics and the second comprises those motorists on authorised, tried and tested medication.

Critics have called separate laws to be introduced – one tough law for criminals who choose to drive while high on illegal substances, then a separate, more sympathetic one for those who have little or no choice but to take the legal medication supplied to them by registered health professionals.

Understandably, the new drug-driving laws are a cause for concern to patients with life-threatening illnesses who have little or no support from family, friends or hospital transport services. These patients have to drive themselves to or from cancer and transplant wards for life-saving medication. With the penalties including a minimum 12-month driving ban, a criminal record, a fine of up to £5,000 or up to six months in prison and the consequences of those penalties including job loss, shame of having a criminal record and increased car insurance costs, this law clearly doesn’t take into consideration innocent patients.

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