However, the Insurance Blogger has found out that any driver in a road accident faces a routine test for driving while under the influence of drink or drugs – and unknowingly they could have traces of prescription drugs in their bodies days after taking a dose.
For instance, one of the prescription drugs on the list is clonazepam, which is routinely taken to treat epilepsy. The legal dose for driving is 500 micrograms, which is one tablet.
However, the average dose is between 500 micrograms and 1500 micrograms and the tablet’s ‘half-life’ – the time it remains active in the body – is between 20 hours and 40 hours
That means a driver on a high dose of clonazepam regularly taking tablets every day would soon build up a residual half-life of 500 micrograms which would see them fail a drugs test in the event of an accident.
The new rules make driving over the generally prescribed limits for each drug an offence, like drink driving.
Motorists convicted while driving under the influence of drugs can expect disqualification and problems finding car insurance once they are allowed back on the roads.
The 16 drugs named in the rules and their advised driving limits are:
- Benzoylecgonine, 50 micrograms
- Cocaine, 10 micrograms
- Delta–9–Tetrahydrocannabinol (Cannabis and Cannabinol), 2 micrograms
- Ketamine, 20 micrograms
- Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD), 1 micrograms
- Methylamphetamine – 10 micrograms
- Methylenedioxymethaphetamine (MDMA – Ecstasy), 10 micrograms
- 6-Monoacetylmorphine (6-MAM – Heroin and Morphine), 5 micrograms
- Clonazepam, 50 micrograms
- Diazepam, 550 micrograms
- Flunitrazepam, 300 micrograms
- Lorazepam, 100 micrograms
- Methadone, 500 micrograms
- Morphine, 80 micrograms
- Oxazepam, 300 micrograms
- Temazepam, 1000 micrograms
Road Safety Minister Robert Goodwill said: The result of the consultation is sending the strongest possible message that you cannot take illegal drugs and drive. This new offence will make our roads safer for everyone by making it easier for the police to tackle those who drive after taking illegal drugs. It will also clarify the limits for those who take medication.
“The limits to be included in the new regulations are not set at 0 as drugs taken for medical conditions can be absorbed in the body to produce trace effects.
“It is also important to recognise that different drugs are broken down at different speeds and that is reflected in the disparities between the limits.”
The drug driving laws are expected to come into force in autumn 2014.