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PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2012 08:38 
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http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-17975502

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Drug-driving in England and Wales could become a specific offence, with a potential jail term and fine, under a new law expected in the Queen's Speech.

Police have to show driving has been impaired by drugs to prosecute.

But under the plans, it will automatically be an offence to drive with certain controlled drugs in your body in excess of specified limits.

Road Safety Minister Mike Penning said legislation would give police powers to "remove this blight".

In the future, police will be equipped with handheld detection devices to test saliva at the roadside.

Mr Penning told BBC Breakfast it had taken so long to bring in such a law because testing had always been seen as "very complicated".

He said in Germany, Spain and Australia this was already being done.

"What we are saying is drug-driving is blighting this country and people are being killed and seriously injured on a regular basis.

He said five different roadside saliva-testing devices were being considered at the Home Office which is expected to give approval by the end of the year.

A scientific review panel is also looking at what drugs the devices would test for.

That panel has been considering a scientific case for a new offence and looking at the effect of individual drugs, such as cocaine and cannabis on driving.

The exact drugs covered by the offence and the specified limits for each will be decided following advice from the panel and public consultation.

"You'll be tested for drink first because, that's the natural assumption, that if a policeman thinks you're impaired, he'll test you for drink," said Mr Penning.

"If you pass that and he still thinks you're impaired, he's actually going to take a saliva swab from you at the side of the road so we're going to replicate what happens with drink for all the legislation going all the way through."

Roadside tests would give police the powers to arrest people for drug-driving.

"Then we're going to have a new piece of equipment in the station which will do exactly the same as what the drink testing does which will actually give the prosecution the evidential test to take you to court."

Gary Groves, whose 14-year-old daughter Lillian Groves was killed outside her home in Croydon, south London, by a driver who admitted taking drugs before the accident, said the legislation was "very important".

"It's important, not just for us, but for other families to come," he told Breakfast.

"Hopefully we can get this through - we're trying to push for zero tolerance but we'll just keep pushing and pushing."

'Not acceptable'

Joanna Bailey, from road safety charity Brake, told BBC News the move was "really positive news".

"Drink-driving's not acceptable, it's not acceptable to drug-drive either," she said.

The law is to be included in the Crime, Communications and Court Bill.

Offenders could face a jail term and fine of up to £5,000 as well as an automatic driving ban of at least 12 months.

Prime Minister David Cameron said they were doing all they could to get "drugalysers rolled out more quickly".

Mr Cameron, who met the Groves family last year, said: "As they said at the time, it simply can't be right that a schoolgirl like Lillian can lose her life and then we discover we don't have the laws or the technology to punish drug-drivers properly.

"Lillian Groves's family should be congratulated for their brave campaign. I hope now that something good can come out of their tragic loss."

Hmm, I can see this becoming something of a minefield to actually implement :scratchchin:

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PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2012 10:32 
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Quite.
Another absolute offence.
Never mind that the driver may well be unaware that a specific drug may impair him/her much more than another person.
And of course, it will be specific to a certain type no doubt. But there are hundreds of thousands of different drugs.
No doubt the testing will be "infallible"
The devices "unquestionable"

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PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2012 10:46 
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The call for "zero tolerance" would effectively ban all cannabis users from ever driving, as the drug remains in the bloodstream for a VERY long time (albeit at levels that cause no measurable impairment).

A blanket law like this is worrying because different drugs produce very different effects and behaviours in their users.

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PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2012 11:38 
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They'd have to stop using cannabis then.
It works for the rail network.

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56 years after it was decided it was needed, the Bedford Bypass is still not completed.We have the most photogenic mayor though, always being photographed doing nothing


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PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2012 13:10 
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jomukuk wrote:
They'd have to stop using cannabis then.
It works for the rail network.



Whilst I certainly don't want stoned drivers, and have particular drive to support cannabis users, this sort of thing can become the thin end of a very fat wedge - absolutely no nicotine, absolutely no alcohol, absolutely no .... What else? Very soon you can have absolutely no freedom...

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PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2012 17:47 
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Although, in general, I support this, they have the issue backwards.

If the police see someone driving poorly, then this should be sufficient to prosecute. The cause is irrelevant. If you are incapable through being half blind, 102 years old or drunk, you are still incapable.

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PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2012 18:22 
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jomukuk wrote:
They'd have to stop using cannabis then.
It works for the rail network.


It's not just cannabis under rail testing technology. One Network rail bloke got suspended for alleged drugs misuse. It turned out that his offence was down to the seeds used in multi seeded bread. It's a case of being more aware of what medication you take ,and asking for side effects. Rail system mandates that any medication taken be notified to personnel.

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PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2012 19:30 
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All medication has a list of side effects. If it says about drowsiness or not operating machinery while taking it then you don't drive! Those will be the medications on the list so they're easy to avoid.

First thing to do is to improve labelling on all over the counter medication so that it is very clear whether it is safe to drive or not rather than having it in small print.

The food issue is an interesting one and whatever test used needs to know the difference between drugs and dinner :D


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PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2012 15:09 
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Does anyone else think that, when this is introduced, there will be huge numbers of people found to be under the influence?

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PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2012 15:18 
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malcolmw wrote:
Does anyone else think that, when this is introduced, there will be huge numbers of people found to be under the influence?

No, I think there will be very few. It will be intensive on police time to enforce and will contain huge shoot-in-foot potential.

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PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2012 15:27 
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I should have phrased my point more clearly so I'll put it another way.

Yes, it's a drain on police time and few will probably be caught (and then only when tested after having a collision). However, do you think there are actually a lot of people driving around under the influence of drugs?

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PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2012 15:44 
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malcolmw wrote:
However, do you think there are actually a lot of people driving around under the influence of drugs?

I honestly don't know; I live a sheltered life. My guess would be that the proportion who are significantly impaired by illegal drugs is actually very small, and a lot less than often supposed.

I wonder if the police will start doing speculative drug-testing on grannies at 11 in the morning as they sometimes do with alcohol.

Also the idea of setting "legal limits" for illegal substances is a moral and legal minefield.

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PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2012 20:14 
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teabelly wrote:
All medication has a list of side effects. If it says about drowsiness or not operating machinery while taking it then you don't drive! Those will be the medications on the list so they're easy to avoid.

First thing to do is to improve labelling on all over the counter medication so that it is very clear whether it is safe to drive or not rather than having it in small print.



Simplest way is to ask doctor what is being prescribed and let them know that you drive /operate machinery or have a D & A policy in force at work . Other useful source of information is pharmacist.
Don't rely on the leaflets inside. One tablet I'm on mentions side effect of dizziness. It can do ,if you don't eat regularly. Other tablets leaflets are full of "may & might cause " etc on the enclosed leaflets that the simplest way is to ask a pharmacist.

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PostPosted: Fri May 11, 2012 10:31 
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You can just enter the drug/medication name into a search engine.
Don't bother relying on your GP, because they only look in "the book" anyway, similar for the pharmacist (who also [now] has on-line access to drug information....)
Several times I have returned to my GP to question the medication because drug interactions were indicated in the search but not mentioned by the GP.
Your life, in your hands.
Within ten years anyone with a medical problem will have to be certified safe to drive, which is when your GP will rapidly get cold feet. Not to mention the fee for the medical (currently an HGV medical at the medical centre I attend is £100.00........)
And it is coming from the EU...

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56 years after it was decided it was needed, the Bedford Bypass is still not completed.We have the most photogenic mayor though, always being photographed doing nothing


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PostPosted: Fri May 11, 2012 17:14 
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teabelly wrote:
All medication has a list of side effects. If it says about drowsiness or not operating machinery while taking it then you don't drive! Those will be the medications on the list so they're easy to avoid.

First thing to do is to improve labelling on all over the counter medication so that it is very clear whether it is safe to drive or not rather than having it in small print.

The food issue is an interesting one and whatever test used needs to know the difference between drugs and dinner :D

I always look at the POTENTIAL side effects of medications.

If mine are to be believed, I could be putting on weight or losing it, suffer palpitations and a slowing of the heart, suffer drowsiness, AND difficulty sleeping, and impotent... you really need to take the medication, and then diagnose if YOU are affected, and if so, to what extent. :shock:

My wife was given some sleeping pills, which listed amongst the side affects "May cause drowsiness" which may seem silly - but we assumed that they meant outside of the time you were actually asleep as a result of taking them - but who knows if our assumption was correct? :scratchchin:

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PostPosted: Fri May 11, 2012 18:32 
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jomukuk wrote:
You can just enter the drug/medication name into a search engine.
Don't bother relying on your GP, because they only look in "the book" anyway, similar for the pharmacist (who also [now] has on-line access to drug information....)
Several times I have returned to my GP to question the medication because drug interactions were indicated in the search but not mentioned by the GP.
Your life, in your hands.
..



I've had similar problems. At one time I had tendon/muscle problems in one leg. Not anything you're taking says doctor/pharmacist. But just before redundancy set in ,we were going to the gym. The manager asked what medication I was on when he heard of it,and he mentioned that some of the statin family( as in used to reduce cholesterol) cause this .

Similar problem with some medication my wife had to take couple of years back for an ulcer. She was prescribed two sets of tablets.( One to kill off the bug causing her ulcer, the other to counteract any side effects) . This was by the consultant. According to pharmacist , taking both together negated the effect of the bug killing one. Compromise was to take them separately.

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PostPosted: Mon May 14, 2012 15:49 
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malcolmw wrote:
Does anyone else think that, when this is introduced, there will be huge numbers of people found to be under the influence?
Yes I do. It is unclear precisely which 'drugs' they intend to check for and I agree that there is a very difficult task in the level of 'danger' and 'risk' and how to obtain a prosecution threshold.

I think as long as they target 'genuine' 'drugs' like cocaine and such then things will be reasonable and fair.
But we already know that rules and regs become "mis-guided" targets, for some, and it can become an excuse to just 'prosecute as many as possible' including those who are otherwise safe and (previously) perfectly legal.

An interesting discussion I had was about migraine tablets. the packet (as with many) allows the user to judge and frankly that is absolutely correct. This is true of many drugs it depends how the 'illness' has progressed and at what point the tablets are taken as to 'how' ill one might be. It would be completely impossible for a test to 'show' how ill someone was other than incompetency of driving.
And this is of course what all this is about, as Malcolm has already said, it is about driving/riding ability and so the inability when under the influence ... and showing that one's standard of control is impaired to enough of a degree to be a risk to yourself and those around you.
It is not about making extra Laws but about safety on the road and ensure that enough Laws exist to prosecute when necessary. It maybe that there needs to be additional guidance for those who were found to have 'drugs' and were incompetent. Perhaps the Law can allow for greater training or for additional penalties /guidance/ further (proper) courses or programs if they wish to retain their licences.
I appreciate that to prove this in Court there is a case of extra and necessary testing to prove the 'drug' case, for them to then be offered the better penalties to encourage the best outcome - i.e. don't drive under the influence ... be properly in charge of a motor vehicle.
I do have grave concerns that many will fall foul of this as it will open the flood gates to 1000's being prosecuted for legal drugs, because to identify the illegal drugs and the levels it will 'catch' innocent people too.
This may have the detrimental effect, (even life threatening) that many will stop taking their important and necessary drugs for fear of prosecution.
I do agree totally that 'stoned when driving/riding' makes you impaired and not in full control and that needs to be addressed and those who do so to receive punishment and placed on a 'drug-program' (not a Drug Awareness Course!).

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PostPosted: Mon May 14, 2012 20:19 
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SafeSpeedv2 wrote:

I do have grave concerns that many will fall foul of this as it will open the flood gates to 1000's being prosecuted for legal drugs, because to identify the illegal drugs and the levels it will 'catch' innocent people too.

.


That was the point of my post on the issue of seeded bread. I've been subject to a D& A policy at work for a good few years .The attitude always was that if in doubt inform. I did ,and had a removal of medical status by one office .Then I had a medical, for a nurse and doctor to tell me that they could not believe that this had happened . Similarly with something as seemingly innocent as Kaoline & Morphine stomach medication . I had to remember to take note of if I had taken any, just in case some weeks later I was called in for screening. Some blokes could get a cold /flue and wouldn't take anything ( like Lem sip etc) just in case . I know of one case ,where someone had a migraine a few days before an interview medical ,and took medication. He failed the test, and it was only because one of his parents was medically trained and able to prove his innocence ( note again ,in a drug test ,it's proving innocence,not guilt) that he got a second chance .

Possibly to catch one illegal drug user ,it will catch dozens of folks on medication . In my case, I'm been told that nothing I take is on the illegal list, in fact some keeps me on the safe health side. ( Regulation of blood sugars/ lowering of chlorestral/ keeping BP within limits ), but it would make a lot of noises on the drug testing alarms . It's like a person exiting from a mental health institution with a certificate pronouncing them sane, asking if you can prove you're sane. :D

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