The New UK Laws on Drug-Related Driving Offences

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The New UK Laws on Drug-Related Driving Offences

New Drug Driving Laws Make It Easier for Police To Prosecute.

The UK drug driving laws were changed in 2017, with the introduction of legal limits spanning seventeen controlled drugs, some illegal, some legal. It is an offence to be over the prescribed limit for any of these substances and you can be prosecuted whether or not there is evidence of their affecting your driving.

The Department of Transport estimates 25% of young drivers know someone who has driven under the influence of cannabis, and 11% know someone who has driven a vehicle having taken class A drugs. According to BBC Radio 5 Live there were almost 8000 arrests for driving under the influence of drugs in England and Wales between March 2015 and April 2016. The Metropolitan Police in London made the most arrests during the period with 1,636 being arrested.

The penalties for drug-related driving offences can include a minimum 12 month driving ban, up to 6 months custodial sentence, unlimited fine, a criminal record and your driving licence will show you have been convicted for drug driving: this will last for 11 years. Other implications include the obvious detrimental effects to your lifestyle and possibly your career. Those convicted may no longer be granted entry into the USA.

The police can carry out roadside tests for cocaine and cannabis, and screen for other drugs at the police station, including ecstasy, heroin, ketamine and LSD. With prescription drugs, it is an offence to drive over the stated limits, and also an offence to drive under the influence of the listed drugs if they have not been medically prescribed. In neither case - legal or prescribed substances - do the police have to provide evidence of impaired driving in order to secure a prosecution.

The government website ( lists the following prescription drugs which, if you are taking, you should consult with your doctor about your ability to drive:

  • amphetamine, e.g. dexamphetamine or selegiline
  • clonazepam
  • diazepam
  • flunitrazepam
  • lorazepam
  • methadone
  • morphine or opiate and opioid-based drugs, eg codeine, tramadol or fentanyl
  • oxazepam
  • temazepam

and says:

“You can drive after taking these drugs if:

you’ve been prescribed them and followed advice on how to take them by a healthcare professional

they aren’t causing you to be unfit to drive even if you’re above the specified limits

You could be prosecuted if you drive with certain levels of these drugs in your body and you haven’t been prescribed them.”

NGP motoring lawyers are highly experienced in the intricacies of drug driving law and have successfully defended many clients. To discuss your case in the strictest confidence, free of charge and obligation please contact us on 02083095010 or email