Scotland to take new steps to tackle scourge of drug-driving
It is currently illegal to drive while impaired by drugs and this offence will continue to operate, but the Scottish Government now plans to introduce new drug-driving limits that will allow prosecutions where different drug types above specified levels are detected. This should mean it is easier to hold drug-drivers to account, as there will be no requirement to prove that someone was driving in an impaired manner.
Currently when police suspect drug-driving, they can carry out the roadside ‘field impairment test’ and if the individual fails this, that provides sufficient evidence to arrest and take them back to a police station for further tests. A doctor must then certify that the person is, in their opinion, impaired to the extent that they are unfit to drive. A driver can be required to provide a sample for testing for the presence of drugs that would cause impairment to drive.
“This Government prioritised lowering the drink-driving limit in 2014 with evidence showing greater numbers of lives lost on our roads due to drink-driving than drug-driving,” Michael Matheson. “With the lower blood-alcohol limit well established, I want to give our law enforcement agencies enhanced powers to tackle drug-driving and make our roads even safer.
“While it is a long-standing offence to drive while impaired by drugs, by introducing new drug driving limits and roadside testing for the presence of drugs, we will strengthen the ability of our police and prosecutors to tackle the minority of drivers who recklessly put other road-users and themselves at risk.
“Subject to Parliament’s agreement and once the new regime is in force, Scotland will be at forefront of efforts across the UK to tackle drivers who either drink or take drugs – with both the lowest drink-drive limit operating in these islands and drug-driving limits in place.”
The Scottish Government will announce in due course the specific limits that will be set for different drug types. It is also discussing the operational requirements with Police Scotland, the Scottish Police Authority and the Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service, including how roadside testing can be put in place. Ministers intend to lay regulations by the end of 2017 for approval by MSPs, with implementation, including the need to have the necessary testing equipment in place, expected in 2019.