The mother of a teenager killed by a driver who had smoked cannabis has welcomed a new law aimed at preventing drug-driving which came into force in England and Wales yesterday.
Police will now find it quicker and easier to prosecute drivers if they exceed new low limits of eight illegal drugs, including cannabis and cocaine, and eight prescription drugs, including morphine and methadone.
Officers can use ‘drugalyser’ devices at the roadside to check for the presence of drugs, and will be able to test samples at police stations.
Under the new law, police officers will also not have to prove that the presence of drugs impaired the person’s driving.
Natasha Groves, whose 14-year-old daughter Lillian was killed by a drug-driver in 2010, said: “We have fought tirelessly since losing Lillian, and our determination has brought about this significant change”.
She told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that people do not appreciate the scale of the problem of drug-driving “because they have been able to get away with it for so long”.
The driver involved in Lillian’s death received an eight-month prison sentence.
The new offence works alongside the existing law on drink and drug-driving, which involves penalties of up to six months in prison, a minimum one-year driving ban and a fine of up to £5,000.
Drivers who are on prescription drugs are being encouraged to carry their medication details with them.
Greater Manchester Police has said it will delay enforcing the new law for about two weeks as it needs more time to train its officers and look at the legal consequences of the changes.
Road Safety Minister Robert Goodwill said: “This new law will save lives.
“The government’s message is clear – if you take drugs and drive, you are endangering yourself and others and you risk losing your licence and a conviction.”