Filed under: Drugs, Forensics, pharmaceuticals, transport, UK Government Information | Tags: forensics, illicit drugs, medicines, regulation
New legislation which covers the subject of drug driving come into force in the UK on 2 March 2015. This legislation, published by the Department of Transport, aim to improve road safety by setting limits for the levels of 8 illicit drugs and 8 prescriptions drugs in the bloodstream. These are set so that levels above are associated with impairment to drive. The levels for the illicit drugs are very low, but those for the prescription drugs (clonazepam, diazepam, flunitrazepam, lorazepam, oxazepam, temazepam, methadone and morphine) are much higher to reflect average to above-average prescription use so that those drivers keeping to any prescribed dose would be safely below the legal limits.
There is also a proposal to add amphetamine at a level of 250 µg/L to the new legislation – this level is sufficiently high not to catch legitimate users of amphetamine for medical purposes (e.g. those suffering with ADHD).
The Government Chemist responded to a consultation issued in 2014 by the Department of Transport and the response can be accessed here. One of our major concerns is that for legislation like this to be fully effective, measures need to be in place similar to those for drink-driving such as validated roadside tests and certified reference materials (CRMs) to underpin laboratory measurements for drugs in blood. The measurement uncertainties associated with many of these measurements are significantly higher than those associated with alcohol in blood measurements, and these can, in turn, lead to higher uncertainty in the interpretation of results. This is an issue which does, in our opinion, need to be properly resolved for the legislation to have the effect for which it was designed.
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