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This note provides information on the offences for drug driving and their enforcement.

Driving while under the influence of drugs is an offence under the Road Traffic Act 1988 with penalties similar to those for driving while under the influence of alcohol. Section 56 and Schedule 22 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013 introduced a new offence of driving while over a prescribed drug limit, which can be enforced at the roadside with mobile testing equipment. This came into force in England and Wales on 2 March 2015. Scotland has as yet not introduced this offence.

There have been concerns expressed as to how those taking prescription and over the counter medication will be affected by the ‘drug drive limit’. There is a ‘medical defence’ built into the legislation, it remains to be seen how this will work in practice.

These changes are largely the consequence of the recommendations of the North Review, published in June 2010, which looked in depth at how to improve the approach to detecting and prosecuting drug driving. An Expert Panel led by Dr Kim Wolff later made recommendations on the appropriate levels of drugs that should be proscribed for the drug drive limit.

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