- Stricter drug-driving laws are coming into effect in March this year
- They will impose new limits on levels of certain legally obtainable drugs
- These include eight over-the-counter drugs used in cough medication
- Drivers are being warned they could lose their licences if they’re caught
Drivers who take large doses of over-the-counter cough medicines, such as Night Nurse, could be over the legal limit under new drug-driving laws
Drivers who take large doses of over-the-counter cough medicines, such as Night Nurse, putting them over the legal limit could lose their licenses under stricter drug-driving laws coming into effect this year.
New limits on permissible levels of certain drugs in a motorist’s bloodstream will come into force in March and will affect eight over-the-counter drugs.
Motorists are being warned that these legally obtainable drugs can impair the judgement of drivers and slow down their reaction times behind the wheel because they contain substances including morphine, diazepam and methadone.
Police have warned many over-the-counter remedies result in drivers being unfit to driver and report a rising number of offenders this year.
The new laws will be enforced with roadside drug-testing kits issued to police. Police officers in Hampshire were among the first to test the kits which detect illegal substances using a swab of saliva.
PC Jon Lansley, a specially-trained drug detection traffic officer based in Hampshire, told AOL Cars: ‘Prescription and other medications easily purchased at pharmacists, such as Night Nurse, can make drivers very drowsy and severely affect their driving.
‘These drugs make it clear they can affect driving on the labels, but often when drivers feel unwell they dose themselves up on these and don’t realise the consequences.’
PC Lansley added: ‘These cold remedies can sometimes be safe in normal doses, but you’ll find most people take more than the recommended amount and then vision can blur and other functions vital to safe driving start to deteriorate too.’
Edmund King, president of the AA, welcomed the new laws.
He told the Independent: ‘People who feel under the weather sometimes overdose themselves.
‘There could be instances where someone has had a late night because they felt ill and knew they had to be on the road at 6am – they could be over the limit.’
He added users should always read product labels carefully and remember that even legal drugs can have a serious impact on the ability to drive.
The new laws, which were set by the government after consultations with medical organisations, have been designed to improve road safety and limit the number of fatal accidents caused by drug-driving, which official figures estimate to be around 200 a year.
The penalties for drug-driving will be the same as drink-driving. Those caught over the limit will be given a minimum 12-month ban and possibly a fine or prison term.