New drug-driving law on the way

* New drug-driving law on the way says PM * Currently an offence to drive while 'impaired' by drugs * New law will bring drugs into line with drink-driving law...

19 January 2012
New drug-driving law on the way

A new law making it illegal to drive under the influence of drugs could be included in the next Queen's speech, the Prime Minister has revealed.

Speaking at Prime Minister's Questions yesterday, David Cameron said calls for a drug-driving law similar in form to that of drink-driving have 'great strength'.

Currently, it's only an offence to drive while impaired by drugs, which means police must prove such impairment before they can prosecute unlike drink-driving cases where just the presence of alcohol above a certain level is sufficient.

The Prime Minister revealed the plans to bring new legislation to the statute book while answering a question from Conservative MP Gavin Barwell, who represents the family of Lillian Groves, a 14-year-old killed by a drug driver.

Mr Cameron said: 'I think it is important that we take this issue of drug driving seriously. We are committed to making the drug-driving testing equipment available for use in police stations as soon as possible.

'The case that he [Gavin Barwell] is making, which is to make an equivalent law to drink-driving, I do think is one that has a great strength.'

The PM then went on to confirm that the new legislation could be included in the next Queen's speech in the spring.

The Government announced proposals to tackle drug driving in March 2011.

Ministers have asked experts to consider the scientific case for a new criminal offence of driving a car shortly after taking illegal drugs. The panel will provide technical input on the effect of drugs on drivers, but not make recommendations for legislation.

A survey by Direct Line Car Insurance and road safety charity Brake found that 3% of motorists aged between 17 and 24 drive while under the influence of banned drugs as regularly as once a month.

According to the Transport Research Laboratory, around 18% of people killed in road crashes have traces of illegal drugs in their blood, with cannabis being the most common.

Pete Barden