The country’s best-known traffic lawyer has called new drug driving legislation coming into force on Monday (March 2) a “pre election stunt”!
The new regulations, described as the biggest shake up of drug-driving laws for 85 years, make it an offence to drive or be in charge of a vehicle whilst over specified limits for a total of 16 different drugs, including for the first time, prescribed medication.
On the same day, new mobile drug testing devices – which can only detect the presence of cannabis and cocaine – are being rolled out by police forces nationwide, leaving those taking the likes of heroin and amphetamines, in all probability, to drive away scot free.
Nick Freeman, aka Mr Loophole, said: “After studying the legislation I think it will make little difference to the existing situation. The police already have the power to arrest drivers suspected of being impaired through drink or drugs.
“In my view, these proposals, which have cost the hard-pressed taxpayer millions of pounds, are ill conceived and premature. It would appear to be a pre-election stunt!
“The equipment is woefully inadequate. There are only two types of approved screening devices, neither of which detect anything other than cocaine or cannabis.
“Surely, if the government was serious in tackling this worrying trend, they would have invested in equipment that was fit for purpose? What is the point in having a device which detects just two out of the 16 listed substances?”
He added: “The likelihood is that this legislation will criminalise the innocent motorist taking prescribed medication, whereas the ‘savvy, illicit user’ will escape the consequences, because the police are reluctant to use existing legislation as prosecutions only have a 50 per cent chance of success.
“Greater Manchester Police have already expressed their reservations and stated they are not going to use the new equipment or enforce the new legislation.
Mr Freeman, whose clients include actors, sports stars and rock stars, added that this legislation will impose a massive burden on the medical profession to provide cogent advice in relation to the correct dosage and the side effects.
“This area may become so complex that their default position may be simply to instruct the patient not to drive. In other words, these proposals will fail to remedy the mischief that Parliament intended it to, which is to rid the roads of drug drivers.
“We have prescribed limits for 16 types of drugs, and the bar is set at a low level for illegal drugs and a high level for prescription drugs.
“Those who have taken prescription drugs may well be ‘unfit’ before they reach the new prescribed level, therefore rendering this new legislation redundant.
“These regulations are introduced by a government which professes to be tough on crime and concerned with road safety. In reality it is just paying lip service to both.
“In real terms England has the highest drink-drive limit of any of the 27 EU member states and yet ignores recommendations of the EU Commission and Sir Peter North’s report – which they commissioned – to lower them.
“This is a drug drive disaster and a wasted opportunity to tackle what is a very serious threat to life and safety on our roads.”