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A drug testing laboratory in Manchester, called BioClinics, has said that the drug use problem in the UK has been massively underly-stated, while also saying that 36% of lorry drivers have tested positive for cannabis or cocaine in their bloodstream. The warning comes following the introduction of new drug driving laws and the subsequent arrests of the first drivers tested with a roadside drugalyser.

Prior to the introduction of new laws, there was no set limit for cannabis or cocaine levels in the body, and this meant that the police had to prove that a driver’s ability had been impaired by the taking of the drugs, while also proving that the driver had indeed taken those drugs. The new laws put limits, similar to those used for drink driving testing, on the permitted levels of 16 different drugs, including prescription and recreational drugs, and means that the prosecution no longer needs to be able to show that the drugs impaired the driver’s ability.

The company is responsible for completing random drug tests on drivers for hundreds of companies in the North West. In some cases, companies do not fire the drivers because of the cost of replacing them, but a spokesperson for the lab company has said that most drivers give up after they are caught for the first time.

19 arrests were made in the first nine days of the new drug driving laws being introduced, all for having cocaine or cannabis in their system. According to the new law, drivers will receive a minimum statutory 12 month ban if found guilty, and could receive a prison sentence as well as a fine of up to £5,000.

Drugalyser testing kits have been approved for use, and a total of 16 different substances, including 8 prescription drugs and 8 recreational drugs, have been included along with permitted levels. Although the legal limit for prescription drugs has been set deliberately high, a zero tolerance limit for illegal, recreational drugs has been introduced. The new laws aim to bring down the number of deaths and accidents caused by drivers that are found to have certain substances in their body.