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Crack down on drug-driving

Currently, those convicted of drug-driving are handed a driving ban, prison sentence or fine by the courts, but aren’t required to complete rehabilitation courses before resuming driving – unlike drink-drivers.

26 May 2022

Crack down on drug-driving

In a call for evidence, government is asking whether drug-drivers should likewise have to undergo rehabilitation, helping better protect the public.

  • proposals require drug-drivers to undertake rehabilitation courses before being allowed back behind the wheel
  • reform would bring penalties for drug-driving in line with drink-driving
  • call for evidence to look at how medical cannabis impacts road safety

Drink-drive related deaths and injuries are now very rare on UK roads, with deaths having fallen 88% between 1979 and 2015. However, there has been an increase in drug-related driving offences, with over 12,000 convicted in 2019 and 44% committed by reoffenders.

More drug driver arrests than drink-drivers

In 2020, 713 people were seriously injured in drug-driving collisions, up from 499 in 2016, and the government says that some police forces are arresting more drug drivers than drink-drivers. It aims to make drug-driving as much of a social taboo as drink-driving.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said:

“It’s only right that drug-drivers must undergo rehabilitation before getting back behind the wheel, helping protect the public from this hidden problem and stamping out drug-driving for good.

“Statistics show non-attendees to drink-driving rehabilitation courses are over twice as likely to commit a new drink-driving offence within 3 years, so by offering high-risk drug-driving offenders the same support, government hopes to bring down the number of repeat offenders.”

RAC head of roads policy, Nicholas Lyes, said:

“Drug-driving ruins lives and threatens the safety of all road users. We welcome proposals to offer drug-driving offenders rehabilitation courses, in the same way those caught drink-driving are offered them, because the evidence shows this helps to reduce reoffending and improves road safety.”

The call for evidence will also ask whether we should bring the way specimens are taken in line with current medical practice by using vacuum blood extraction, decreasing the risk of bloodborne viruses to healthcare professionals.

It will also seek views on the relationship between medicinal cannabis and road safety, in another move to ensure road safety policy keeps up to date with changing societal norms.

Later this year, government will seek views on other drink and drug driving matters, such as failing to stop after a collision and the criminal use of vehicles.

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