Drug-driving limits and roadside testing will be introduced in Scotland to deal with substance-impaired motorists, Justice Secretary Michael Matheson has announced.
Mr Matheson pledged to build on Scotland’s drink-driving limits and existing laws against drug-driving with new curbs against motorists who endanger other road-users by taking the wheel under the influence of drugs.
It is illegal to drive while impaired by drugs and this offence will continue to operate, but the Scottish government plans to introduce new drug-driving limits that will allow prosecutions where different drug types above specified levels are detected. This should mean it is easier to hold drug-drivers to account as there will be no requirement to prove that someone was driving in an impaired manner.
Mr Matheson said: “While it is a long-standing offence to drive while impaired by drugs, by introducing new drug driving limits and roadside testing for the presence of drugs, we will strengthen the ability of our police and prosecutors to tackle the minority of drivers who recklessly put other road-users and themselves at risk.
“Under the new offence, evidence of impaired driving will not be required with our law enforcement agencies instead able to investigate and prosecute on the basis of a driver being above the specified limits for individual drug types.”
The introduction of drug-drive limits was among a number of recommendations by Sir Peter North QC in his independent report commissioned by the UK government.
The UK government’s Crime and Courts Act 2013 devolved powers to Scottish ministers to introduce a drug-driving offence and the power to specify the limits that should apply for different drug types. This followed powers over setting the drink-driving limit being devolved through the Scotland Act 2012.
Sir Peter said: “I was very pleased to hear of the decision of the Scottish government to proceed with reform of the law and practice relating to the offence of driving under the influence of drugs, following on from the recommendations that I made in this area in 2010.
“I believe that such reforms, when combined with the well-regarded decision to lower the drink drive limit, will make a major contribution to road safety in Scotland.”