People who misuse prescription drugs from their doctor could be among those caught by police using new roadside “drugalysers” in Lincolnshire.
Drivers risk prosecution if they exceed extremely low-level legal limits for eight illegal drugs, like ecstasy and heroin, and normal doses set by GPs for eight prescription medicines such as diazepam and morphine.
Until now, police who suspected drivers were under the influence of drugs could only charge them with driving while impaired or unfit.
But a new law came into force on Tuesday that sets legal limits for 16 drugs – and police now have roadside testing kits and other equipment to give them the evidence to make the charges stick.
Drivers who are prosecuted face a criminal record, losing their licence for at least a year and fine of up to £5,000.
Sgt Ewan Gell, from the Lincolnshire’s Roads Policing Unit, said: “The new roadside equipment will save us huge amounts of time and effort, and will help to make the roads of Lincolnshire safer for all.”
John Siddle, spokesman for Lincolnshire Road Safety Partnership, said it’s likely police will prosecute somewhere between 20 and 30 people a month in this county alone.
“People using prescription drugs within recommended amounts will not be penalised, but there are some people who misadminister their drugs or who have some difficulty around controlling their drugs.”
Medicinal drug limits are (micrograms per litre): amphetamine 250ug/L; clonazepam 50ug/L; diazepam 550ug/L, flunitrazepam 300ug/L; lorazepam 100ug/L; methadone 500ug/L, morphine 80ug/L, oxazepam 300ug/L and temazepam 1,000ug/L. Limits for illegal drugs are trace amounts such as 2ug/L for cannabis.