Driving under the influence of drugs

Recent changes to driving legislation are a reminder that employers should have policies in place to address drink-driving and drug-driving laws,and provisions which deal with the disciplinary procedure which should be followed if an employee commits a driving offence. 

From 2nd March 2015 it is a criminal offence to drive (or attempt to drive) a vehicle if the person has certain level of substances in their body (known as “listed drugs”). There are 16 illegal listed drugs, including cocaine, MDMA and cannabis. Additionally, the prescribed substances under the new legislation include some controlled drugs, which can be purchased over the counter, such as methadone, lorazepam and morphine.      

It is a criminal offence if the person is driving (or attempting to drive) and the person’s blood or urine exceeds the specified drug limit which is set by the legislation. The limit of illegal drugs permitted is zero meaning that a very small amount of an illegal drug could result in a criminal offence. The limit for the controlled drugs is higher, and there is a defence if the person has been using the prescribed drugs in accordance with a medical prescription.