David Stewart

North MSP disappointed yet again by Cabinet Secretary’s response to his plea for drug driving limits to be set

18 January 2017

Highlands & Islands (including Moray) Regional MSP and road safety campaigner, David Stewart is disappointed with the Cabinet Secretary for Justice, Michael Matheson’s  response to his latest attempt to persuade the Scottish Government to set drug driving limits.

“ Every day people are killed or seriously injured on our roads and still we have not got in place up to date legislation to deal with drug drivers”, said David.

“We have lead the field with regards to drink driving legislation and yet we have allowed ourselves to fall behind England and Wales with regards to drug driving.

“I appreciate that since 2015 in these parts of the UK they have allowed the police to target effectively such drivers by setting drug driving limits.

“Detections have risen from 52% to 95%. Most motoring organisations and road safety groups are also supportive of drug driving limits, yet here in Scotland we have no such limits and if a driver is stopped by the Police and suspected to be driving whilst unfit through drugs, the Police have to rely on the Field Impairment Test (FIT)initially to prove impairment.

“If the driver fails this practical test, they can arrest the driver and take him/her to a Police station.

“Thereafter a Doctor is summoned to take samples which are sent for analysis.”

“In such cases the Police have to prove that the driver was unfit through drugs and a lot of emphasis is put on their testimony.

“ If there was a set limit and the prosecution could prove that a driver had drugs in his/her system which exceeded that limit, then the whole issue would be easier and more efficient and effective to deal with.”

“For example, In England and Wales, Police are kitted out with drugalysers which can detect the level of cannabis and cocaine in a drivers body at the locus.

“In Scotland this is not the case and we end up having a long drawn out process and two Police Officers off the streets for a considerable time.

“Even if we could test for cannabis and cocaine at the locus of a stop in Scotland, this would be a positive step in the right direction, but yet the Government want to drag their feet and await the outcome of a review of the England and Wales model which will be published later this year.

“Making our roads safer should be the aim and if that means detecting drug drivers quicker and easier by setting drug driving limits now, then this is what we should do.

“Every day this does not happen is a day when there could be a fatality or serious injury collision which could have been avoided”

“We should use every method or tool at our disposal to keep drink and drug drivers off our roads.”


David’s Parliamentary question

David Stewart : To ask the Scottish Government whether it will set drug-driving limits and, if so, whether it will equip the police with the so-called drugalyser devices that are in use in England and Wales.

Michael Matheson:

 This is a very complex area with individual limits proposed for 17 different drug types.

While no specific timescale has been set, we understand there is likely to be an evaluation of the new drug driving limits introduced in England and Wales that is due to be published in 2017.

This evaluation will likely prove helpful in understanding the full practical implications of setting drug driving limits and whether the potential benefits of drug driving limits have been realised in England and Wales since their introduction in 2015.

This will help inform our own consideration of whether drug driving limits should be introduced in Scotland including what implications this may have for the equipment used by Police Scotland to detect drug drivers.