MSP campaigns on drug driving issue

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Highlands and Islands MSP and road safety campaigner, David Stewart, who raised the issue of drug driving limits being introduced in Scotland, has received a response from the Cabinet Secretary for Justice, Michael Matheson MSP.

“The Cabinet Secretary advised me that the issues were complex, with limits to be considered for 15 different drug types”, said David Stewart.

“The Cabinet Secretary also indicated that he and the Scottish Government wanted to await the outcome of an evaluation of the new drug drive limits in England and Wales before making a decision with regards to the introduction of such limits in Scotland.

“Notwithstanding the above, I feel that anything we can do to improve road safety should be undertaken. From my research into the new drug driving limits in England and Wales, I ascertained that the detection rate for drug drivers has increased from 52% to over 90%.One drug driver taken off our roads is well worth any action set to achieve this.

“With all the above in mind, I am proposing that the Scottish Government seriously consider introducing a drug driving limit for cannabis and cocaine, being two of the most commonly abused substances in Scotland.

“The benefit of this positive action would be that it would allow the Police to more efficiently and effectively deal with drug drivers who had taken either of these drugs before driving, as the amount of the drug in the drivers body could be accurately recorded by means of the hand held drugs detection road side test kit (drugalyser).”

He continued: “The above action would negate the complicated work of trying to set levels for all 15 other targeted drugs.

“This step would further be seen as a positive approach to the detection of drug drivers, as research has shown that such drivers are motivated to drive whilst under the influence, because they feel the chance of detection is slim.”

In conclusion Mr Stewart said: “If we had a limit set for cannabis and cocaine, then these drugs could be accurately detected by means of a drugalyser at the roadside. For all other drugs, the current FIT test, which is purely a subjected test, would still be applicable.

“The key here is that the drugalyser is accurate and can accurately give a reading of the amount of cannabis and cocaine in a drivers system at the locus whilst he or she is stopped and being dealt with by the Police. This at least would be a step in the right direction.

“I have written back to the Cabinet Secretary for Justice outlying my proposals.”