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Harlow man arrested over new drug driving legislation

Communities / Sun 8th Mar 2015 at 06:24pm

ESSEX Police has arrested two people on suspicion of drug driving following the introduction of new legislation on Monday March 2.

Both suspects were tested with new equipment that has been introduced in Essex to identify the presence of eight possible illegal drugs.

A 31-year-old man from Harlow was stopped in West Road in the town shortly after 11pm on Friday March 6 after a vehicle was flagged for not having insurance.

He was subsequently arrested on suspicion of drug driving after the equipment indicated the presence of illegal drugs in his system.

He was taken to Harlow police station for questioning and has been released on police bail to report back on Friday May 15.

A 20-year-old man from Ilford was also arrested on Friday night after his driving drew the attention of police on The Broadway in Loughton.

He was detained on suspicion of drug driving, after the equipment gave a positive reading, and was taken to Harlow Police Station for questioning.

He has been released on police bail, pending further enquiries, to report back on Friday May 15.

Chief Inspector Nick Lee, from Roads Policing, said: “We are already making use of this new legislation to take drivers suspected of driving under the influence of drugs off the roads and question them.

“Should they be convicted of the offence then they could face a minimum one year driving ban, a fine of up to £5,000, up to six months in prison and a criminal record.

“Driving under the influence of drugs can affect your reaction times and awareness and makes you a potential threat to other road users and yourself.

“If we catch you and convict you then the very least you can expect is a criminal record but the risks you take by driving under the influence of drugs could potentially put your life or someone else’s in danger and our message is simple – don’t do it.”

Drivers can face prosecution if they exceed limits set for the presence of eight illegal drugs, including cannabis and cocaine, and eight prescription drugs.

The new rules run alongside the existing law, under which it is an offence to drive when impaired by any drug.

The regulations set low levels for the eight illegal drugs, with higher levels set for eight prescription drugs, including morphine and methadone.

Those using prescription drugs within recommended amounts will not be penalised.

Officers will also be able to test for these and other drugs including ecstasy, LSD, ketamine and heroin at a police station, even if a driver passes the roadside check.

The prescription drugs covered by the new law are:

• Clonazepam is prescribed to treat seizures or panic disorders

• Diazepam is used for anxiety disorders, alcohol withdrawal symptoms or muscle spasms

• Flunitrazepam (also known as Rohypnol) is a sedative originally used in hospitals for deep sedation in the 1970s

• Lorazepam is used to treat convulsions or seizures caused by epilepsy

• Oxazepam is used to relieve anxiety, including anxiety caused by alcohol withdrawal

• Temazepam affects chemicals in the brain that may become unbalanced and cause insomnia problems

• Methadone is used in the treatment of heroin addiction and for pain relief

• Morphine or opiates treat moderate to severe pain

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