New drug driving laws that HGV drivers & operators need to be aware of

Published: 10 March 2015

New drug driving laws that HGV drivers & operators need to be aware of
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HGV drivers and operators will have to be aware of new intoxicants legislation which now include some prescription medications.

HGV drivers and operators will need to pay extra attention to the newly introduced drug driving laws which are now in effect. The detection of drugs is a much harder problem to detect for HGV operators than that of alcohol and in some cases the drug may actually be prescribed to the driver.

The new legislation covers the legal limit for 16 different intoxicants, half of which are legal. The allowed levels of the intoxicants appear to be heavily weighted in favour of the prescription drugs with many key industry figures pointing out that the minimal level of intoxicants such as cocaine, ketamine and heroin would have very little, if any, effect on a driver’s ability. The argument could be seen that this is just another way to arrest illegal drug users whether or not they are fit to operate a vehicle.

One of the major changes that will effect HGV drivers and operators is that some prescription medications are on the list of intoxicants which could see you arrested. Therefore medications prescribed by your doctor if found to be in your system after testing could result in you being arrested for drug driving and possibly given a lengthy driving ban which would mean game over for your HGV driving job.

The list below shows 8 of the legally prescribed medications which are included in the new legislation, as you can see some of these medications are frequently prescribed and people are often allowed to drive whilst using them.

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  •          Diazepam
  •          Temazepam
  •          Morphine
  •          Methadone
  •          Clonazepam
  •          Flunitrazepam
  •          Lorazepam
  •          Oxazepam
You can see the full list of drug limits along with the governments thinking behind the changes here ‘new drug limits’.

The levels are higher than most doctors would prescribe, however in some circumstances doctors will prescribe higher dosages so you could be at risk and also if you over medicate yourself you would also be at risk. Our advice would be to double check with your doctor if you are on any prescribed medications which include these intoxicants.

Robert Goodwill, Road Safety Minister has said ‘If you are taking your medicine as directed and your driving is not impaired, then you are not breaking the law and there is no need to worry. We advise anyone who is unsure about the effects of their medication or how the new legislation may affect them, to seek the advice of their doctor or pharmacist’.

For those found guilty under the new law the penalties will be a maximum six month jail sentence, up to £5000 fine and an automatic 12 month driving ban. For professional drivers that will also mean the loss of a job.

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