News story

Public approval for driving limits for 16 drugs

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

The recommended limits for 16 different drugs have now been approved following 2 government consultations.

Today (27 March 2014) the government’s ambition to create a new drug drive limit moved a step closer following the results of 2 public consultations.

The recommended limits for 16 different drugs have now been approved and will see 8 generally prescription and 8 illicit drugs added into new regulations that will come in to force in the autumn 2014.

The new rules will mean it will be an offence to be over the generally prescribed limits for each drug and drive a vehicle, as it is with drink driving.

Road Safety Minister Robert Goodwill said:

The results of the consultation is sending the strongest possible message that you cannot take illegal drugs and drive. This new offence will make our roads safer for everyone by making it easier for the police to tackle those who drive after taking illegal drugs. It will also clarify the limits for those who take medication.

The next step is to take these limits to Parliament to see the offence come into force later this year.

In March 2013, the department took expert advice from a medical panel on the potential drug limits that the government should consult on. The department accepted most of the recommendations made by the panel and has consulted on limits that are a ‘zero tolerance’ approach to deter people from taking drugs and driving.

The limits to be included in the new regulations are not set at 0 as drugs taken for medical conditions can be absorbed in the body to produce trace effects.

It is also important to recognise that different drugs are broken down at different speeds and that is reflected in the disparities between the limits.

Therefore the limits to be included in the new regulations are:

Illicit drugs

  1. benzoylecgonine, 50 µg/L
  2. cocaine, 10 µg/L
  3. delta–9–tetrahydrocannabinol (cannabis and cannabinol), 2 µg/L
  4. ketamine, 20 µg/L
  5. lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), 1 µg/L
  6. methylamphetamine, 10 µg/L
  7. methylenedioxymethaphetamine (MDMA – ecstasy), 10 µg/L
  8. 6-monoacetylmorphine (6-MAM – heroin and diamorphine), 5 µg/L

Generally prescription drugs

  1. clonazepam, 50 µg/L
  2. diazepam, 550 µg/L
  3. flunitrazepam, 300 µg/L
  4. lorazepam, 100 µg/L
  5. methadone, 500 µg/L
  6. morphine, 80 µg/L
  7. oxazepam, 300 µg/L
  8. temazepam, 1000 µg/L

In the consultation for amphetamine, the government has decided that the proposed limits need to be reconsidered so that patients who take medicine for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder are not affected. The government will therefore look to re-consult on the new threshold later this year, with an agreed limit added in to the legislation at a later date.

In the meantime the government is working closely with the medical profession to ensure healthcare professionals and patients are informed about the new drug driving offence. Later this year will also see the start of a wider communications campaign to make sure everyone that drives knows about the new changes to the law.

See also

Roads media enquiries