Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Warning over drug-driving law and prescribed medication

People who have been prescribed powerful anxiety or pain relief drugs are being warned about a new drug-driving law.

The new legislation will includes some prescription medicines.The limit levels for which are set above  prescribed doses so most patients should still be safe to drive. Those who are unsure are advised to seek the advice of a pharmacist.

The new law, was introduced 2 March 2015 in England and Wales, aims to catch those who put the lives of others at risk while driving under the influence of drugs.

It sets very low levels for eight well known illegal drugs, including cannabis and cocaine, but also includes eight prescription drugs, where the levels have been set much higher.

Prescription drugs covered by the new law
  • Clonazepam (seizures or panic disorder)
  • Diazepam (anxiety disorders, alcohol withdrawal symptoms or muscle spasms)
  • Flunitrazepam (AKA Rohypnol is a sedative) 
  • Lorazepam (convulsions or seizures caused by epilepsy)
  • Oxazepam (relieve anxiety, including anxiety caused by alcohol withdrawal)
  • Temazepam ( insomnia problems)
  • Methadone (heroin addiction and for pain relief)
  • Morphine (moderate to severe pain)

Robert Goodwill MP, Road Safety Minister, says as long as they stay within prescribed levels, most people will still be able to get behind the wheel of a car.

"If you are taking your medicine as directed and your driving is not impaired, then you are not breaking the law and there is no need to worry," he said.

"We advise anyone who is unsure about the effects of their medication or how the new legislation may affect them, to seek the advice of their doctor or pharmacist.

"There will also be a medical defence if a driver has been taking medication as directed and is found to be over the limit but not impaired.

"Drivers who are taking prescribed medication at high doses [are advised] to carry evidence with them, such as prescriptions slips, when driving in order to minimise any inconvenience should they be asked to take a test by the police."

Ed Morrow, campaigns officer for road safety charity Brake said the organisation strongly welcomed the new drug-diving law.
"This much-needed progressive move by government will make it much easier for police to deal with illegal drug-drivers," he said.

"We are confident that the necessary measures are in place to ensure drivers who take prescription medication are not unfairly penalised.

"However, many prescription medications can have a negative effect on your ability to drive safely, and there is a worrying lack of awareness of this among the public."


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