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09/07/13 09:45

Drug driving limit for Scotland

Consultation seeks views on specified limit for new drug driving offence.

A consultation seeking views on setting limits for a new drug driving offence in Scotland has been published.

The UK Government’s Crime and Courts Act 2013 introduced a new offence to bring drug driving into line with drink driving by making it an offence to drive under the influence of drugs over a specified limit. This will complement the existing drug driving offence of driving while impaired through the use of drugs. The Act devolved the responsibility for setting the drug driving limit for this new offence to the Scottish Parliament.

The UK Government has launched a consultation paper in relation to England and Wales but has agreed to extend the consultation to Scotland. The consultation seeks views on three approaches on setting a drug driving limit:

  • setting a limit just above a level where a person might have naturally occurring levels of a drug within their bodies (a zero tolerance approach) for all controlled drugs;
  • setting a limit at the level where the amount of a drug within a person’s body will impair their driving (a road safety approach) for all controlled drugs; and
  • a mix of a zero tolerance approach for illegal drugs such as cannabis and cocaine and a road safety approach for medicinal drugs.

Following the consultation, the Scottish Government will look at bringing forward regulations to the Scottish Parliament to set drug driving limits in Scotland. Any final proposal will be taken within the wider context of Scotland’s national drugs strategy.

This is a joint consultation with the UK Government but depending on the responses received, Scotland may follow a different policy approach from the UK Government.

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said: “The Scottish Government is determined to do everything we can to make our roads safer and save lives.

“We have already announced our intention to lower the drink drive limit, but we must not lose sight of the problems caused by drug drivers. In line with our approach on drink driving, it may have been preferable to devolve all responsibility relating to the new drug driving offence.

“Nonetheless, having the power to set drug driving limits is a useful responsibility to have as part of our desire to improve road safety in Scotland. Alongside the existing offence of driving while being impaired through drugs, this new offence will help police and prosecutors tackle irresponsible drug drivers more effectively as it will no longer be necessary to prove impairment on a case by case basis in order to obtain a conviction.

“Now is your chance to have your say on what the limits for drug driving should be.”

Notes to editors

Link to consultation document:

www.gov.uk/government/consultations/drug-driving-proposed-regulations

The Crime and Courts Act 2013 makes provision for a new offence of driving, attempting to drive or being in charge of a motor vehicle with a specified controlled drug in the body above the level specified for that drug. The 2013 Act also includes a power for the Secretary of State in relation to England and Wales, and Scottish ministers in relation to Scotland, to specify the controlled drugs and the limit for each in regulations. Although the power to set the drug driving limit is being devolved through the Crime and Courts Act 2013, all other legislative matters relating to drug driving remain the responsibility of the UK Government.

The UK Government set up an independent expert panel in early 2012 to consider the technical aspects of introducing a new drug driving offence including how it will be possible to set levels for the impairing effects of specific drugs on someone driving. The UK Government published the expert panel independent report in March 2013.