Campaigns against drink-driving began to appear over 50 years ago; however specific drug-driving campaigns are only just beginning. The scale of the drug-driving problem within Europe is unclear, as the  lack of specific legislation in some countries has made it difficult to identify individuals who drive under the influence of drugs.

The UK introduced new drug-drive legislation in March 2015 and assisted by the use of roadside oral fluid testing, by June over 400 people a month had been arrested for the offence. Official statistics showed that there was little consistency in testing and arrests across England and Wales, with figures ranging from 200-plus in one police force down to zero in others.

It is hoped that the adoption of roadside drug testing devices in many European countries will help to give a clearer picture of the scale of drug-driving.

Sarah Sillars, Institute of Advanced Motorists:

“We have reached a point where drink-driving has become socially unacceptable, particularly amongst younger people. We now need a sustained campaign to back up the police enforcement effort and ensure drug-driving is seen in exactly the same way. The effects of driving under the influence of drugs can be devastating.”

The Law in the UK

It’s illegal to drive if either:

  • you’re unfit to do so because you’re on legal or illegal drugs
  • you have certain levels of illegal drugs in your blood (even if they haven’t affected your driving)

You could be imprisoned, banned from driving and face a fine if you’re found guilty of drug-driving.

The actual penalty you get is up to the magistrates who hear your case, and depends on your offence.