New limits and roadside tests to tackle drug-driving in Scotland

There will be a crackdown on people who drive while under the influence of drugs if new legislation proposed by the Scottish Government is approved.

Limits on drug-driving, as well as roadside testing, are due to be introduced on October 21 if passed by MSPs in the Scottish Parliament.

The law will adopt a zero-tolerance approach to eight drugs most associated with illegal use including cannabis, heroin and cocaine, with limits set at a level where any claims of accidental exposure can be ruled out.

A list of other drugs associated with medical use will also have limits based on impairment and risk to road safety.

It is hoped the legislation will make it easier to hold drug drivers to account as there will no longer be a requirement to prove that someone was driving in an impaired manner.

Existing legislation makes it an offence to be in charge of a motor vehicle while unfit to drive through drink or drugs, with the penalties – reserved to Westminster – being a minimum 12-month driving ban, up to six months in prison and a fine of up to £5,000.

The new offence of driving while above specified drug limits will operate alongside the current offence and carry with it the same maximum penalties.

Police Scotland, the Scottish Police Authority and the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service have been making preparations and are said to be on track for implementation in October.

Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said: “The introduction of drug-driving limits will strengthen the power of Scotland’s police and prosecutors to tackle the minority of drivers who irresponsibly put themselves and other road-users at risk.

“Drug-driving is completely unacceptable and we will continue to use all of the tools at our disposal to prevent the avoidable deaths and damage caused by those who drive under the influence of drugs.

“Together with our stringent drink-driving limits, these new laws will ensure that Scotland has the UK’s most robust laws against impaired and unsafe driving.”

Chief Inspector Stephen Innes, of Police Scotland, said: “Police Scotland is committed to reducing road casualties and tackling drink and drug-driving is a key focus of our activity.

“The devastating impact of drug driving on victims, communities and users themselves cannot be understated.

“This new legislation will significantly enhance our ability to detect and deter motorists engaging in this extremely risky driving behaviour.

“We are currently working closely with key partners and plans are well advanced to deliver this new legislation in October this year.”