MSP David Stewart’s campaign for a clamp down on drug drivers will come to fruition at the end of this year with the announcement the Scottish Government intends to bring in new legislation.
The veteran road safety campaigner, who represents the Highlands and Islands, has previously criticised the Government for being slow in tackling drug driving saying it should act quickly to equip the police with ‘drugalysers’ to test motorists for cannabis or cocaine during road-side stops.
In an answer to an ‘Inspired Parliamentary Question’, Justice Secretary Michael Matheson said that the Scottish Government intended bringing forward, before the end of 2017, the necessary secondary legislation to introduce drug driving limits in Scotland.
“I am delighted that the Government has finally decided to act on this and will be following the legislation to see the fine detail,” said Mr Stewart.
“The main issue is to have a deterrent so people considering driving, who are impaired because of drugs, will think twice.
“No family should face the terrible consequences caused by drug driving and one death is one too many.
“I had hoped it would be introduced sooner, thus preventing any more tragic accidents caused by drivers who take to the road with drugs in their system.
“But I welcome the fact that the police will have more power and shouldn’t have to rely on the old-style field impairment test at the roadside for anyone suspected of driving under the influence of drugs.”
The impairment test involves co-ordination tests, such as walking in a straight line and standing on one leg, reminiscent of the old style drink-driving test before breathalysers were introduced.
Mr Matheson said the legislation will provide for specific limits for a range of drugs and will provide for commencement of drug driving limits in 2019 with arrangements for the introduction of necessary testing equipment.
Two years ago England and Wales made it an offence to drive with certain drugs in your system and there is a zero-tolerance approach to illegal drugs.
New figures reveal that the same number of drivers have died on our roads after taking cannabis as those who died after drinking but this is generally not known by the public.