UK - Britain's top road cop has called for a change in drug driving laws

Discussion in 'Drug Policy Reform & Narco Politics' started by Lunar Loops, Jan 5, 2007.

  1. Lunar Loops

    Lunar Loops Driftwood Platinum Member & Advisor

    Reputation Points:
    2,393
    Messages:
    1,688
    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2006
    from ireland
    This from Autotrader UK (http://www.autotrader.co.uk/EDITORIAL/CARS/FEATURES/33395.html):

    Britain's top road cop has called for a change in drug driving laws - he says driving with drugs illegal substances in your body should be made a criminal offence.


    Speaking exclusively to Auto Trader's Alex Eckford, Chief Constable Meredith Hughes talks about drugs, speed cameras, his two crashes and why he once had six points on his licence.


    "I'm going to fight for a change in the drug-driving law", says Meredith Hughes, Chief Constable of South Yorkshire and head of the Road Policing Unit.


    "The law requires us to prove impairment, and while we have new tools and more effective methods of doing that, it would be better if we cut straight to the chase - it should be an offence to have illegal drugs in your body and drive a car. I think we know enough about the effect of drugs to say they do not in any way enhance driving.


    It's an unprecedented call from such a high ranking officer. The current law states motorists' driving must be proved to be impaired by an illegal substance in order for a prosecution to be brought. With cannabis detectable in the system for weeks after use, and more than two million reported users in the UK, it would mean almost to 1 in 10 motorists would potentially be acting illegally.


    Drug drivers, and their attitudes to driving under the influence, are firmly in the Chief Constable's sights.


    "The arguments I hear from drug drivers remind me of the comments their grandfathers came up with when we introduced the breathalyser," says Mererdith. "They used to say things like 'I have a couple of pints of strong ale and I drive better' and 'it calms me after a tense day at work'. We proved that was a load of old tonk. Now they say 'I have a couple of bits of blow then I drive better."


    Speed cameras, or rather the media's obsession with them is another bugbear for the man known to his friends as Med.


    He said: "I think speed cameras represent about ten per cent of road safety and roads policing."


    "It's always a temptation in a discussion to focus on speed cameras, but we do such a wide variety of work. I think most of the public are very happy with the policies and a few self-interested, selfish drivers who appear to want the right to drive at any speed they see fit without recognising the democratic nature of our society are frankly a disgrace."


    "There are clear rules for the deployment of speed cameras, technologically they're outstanding, they have a proven record of road safety, which, no matter how much the 'anti's try to disparage the evidence is overwhelming."


    He's speaking from experience. Six points of experience - and two crashed cars.


    "I've had two fixed penalty notices from speeding - one on my way to work in South Yorkshire at 6.10am on an empty dual carriageway with a 40mph limit. And the other was on an empty dual carriageway in South Wales with a 70mph limit.


    "I paid up on both occasions, as everyone should. It also made me readjust my driving. I also went out with my traffic officers and got some tips and hints on how to use my car."


    "I carried all my personal possessions around in a Austin Maxi for four years," says Med. "Until I crashed it on Christmas Eve one year into the back of a businessman's Jag. He was not a happy man. I was very tired and I misjudged it. I was forced to trade down to a ten year old Mk1 Ford Escort 1100."


    Med's other crash happened on during a high-speed police chase.


    "I crashed a police car once. It happened in the Welsh valleys, when the car I was driving in response to a call slid sideways into a Lada. The police's response was to put me on a driving course. It taught me so much."


    It's a time of year for making changes - what does Med think motorists' New Year resolutions should be?


    "Drivers - young and old - should get more training," says Med. "Most drivers get through their driving test and never get any more training throughout their driving career. People should join the Institute of Advanced Motorists, or invest in some lessons and start again from scratch.


    "I'd also like to see is young motorists have as much pride in their driving as they do in their car," says Med. "They'll go out of their way to get he shiniest, best car they can lay their hands on for the price. But how often do they look at how safe and effective they are as drivers?"
     
  2. Police Officer

    Police Officer Silver Member

    Reputation Points:
    467
    Messages:
    410
    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2006
    from U.S.A.
    Sounds like a smart man. Good luck to him.
     
  3. Mona Lisa

    Mona Lisa Gold Member

    Reputation Points:
    460
    Messages:
    493
    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2006
    from U.S.A.
    As a cyclist who often feels very vulnerable on the roads, I would have to agree. I personally feel fairly liberal about drug use but also believe that if that is what one chooses to do, that he/she shouldn't be driving whilst under the influence. It's another reason why I really believe in good public transport.

    The only real problem is that marijuana users can have traces of thc in their blood for weeks, even if they are no longer high. This would effectively mean that they could no longer drive at all. But maybe that is the price one has to pay if he/she chooses to smoke cannabis. Maybe people will have to except that everything has a price. In America, many recreational pot smokers are locked away in prison with lenghy sentences so I think they get away with a lot more here in England.

    In a way, I feel that if drugs were legalised that it would make it much easier for all this to be out in the open and thus tested for. It also goes without saying that there's a time and place for things, and that it wouldn't appropriate to be out in public with saucer eyes and obviously intoxicated on something, just as it's not appropriate to be roaring drunk whilst out in public -- especially around children.

    I believe that even if recreational drugs was legalised, that it would still be considered socially unacceptable by many; that many firms would still test their staff and forbid drug taking as a condition of their contract for employment. There would no doubt be many by laws controlling where and when people took drugs, just as there are by laws concerning alcohol consumption.

    If people are going to take drugs, then they should reserve taking them at home (or perhaps in an appropriate public setting such as at a club or coffee house), where they're not going to cause offence to anyone. After all, they could be done for being intoxicated and disorderly.

    Maybe clubs could hire out taxi drivers to subsidize towards a safe journey home for clubbers as part of the admission price, or require each club goer to come up with a pledge that they would arrange to be picked up beforehand. It might be a voluntary code, but become the normal practice.
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2007
  4. Lunar Loops

    Lunar Loops Driftwood Platinum Member & Advisor

    Reputation Points:
    2,393
    Messages:
    1,688
    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2006
    from ireland
    I agree that nobody should be driving whilst under the influence of anything, but THC levels in particular do pose a problem. Someone who has had a toke weeks ago will still test positive, but the level of THC is NOT going to be affecting their ability to drive. With alcohol there is a set level in the bloodstream. See the following related thread:

    https://drugs-forum.com/threads/26192
     
  5. Nature Boy

    Nature Boy Gold Member

    Reputation Points:
    1,984
    Messages:
    3,878
    Joined:
    May 10, 2005
    from ireland
    Perhaps this is progress, perhaps it's the beginning of a lynching.

    If authorities come to the conclusion that driving while stoned is the same as driving while drunk, there will be problems. Both drugs are incomparable in this regard but that hasn't stopped the government in the past.
     
  6. Mona Lisa

    Mona Lisa Gold Member

    Reputation Points:
    460
    Messages:
    493
    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2006
    from U.S.A.
    Maybe they will be able to come up more reliable tests that will determine a cut off point so that people would be able to have up to a certain level of thc in their system before they were considered over the limit. BUt if it is indeed a lynching, it might mean that non-driving drug takers would be targeted less.
     
  7. Lunar Loops

    Lunar Loops Driftwood Platinum Member & Advisor

    Reputation Points:
    2,393
    Messages:
    1,688
    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2006
    from ireland
    Small comfort when those with a recreational bent live in a rural backwater with no public transport.
     
  8. Mona Lisa

    Mona Lisa Gold Member

    Reputation Points:
    460
    Messages:
    493
    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2006
    from U.S.A.
    I see what you mean :p:eek: ;)
     
  9. Lunar Loops

    Lunar Loops Driftwood Platinum Member & Advisor

    Reputation Points:
    2,393
    Messages:
    1,688
    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2006
    from ireland
    That's no problem. SWIS has many enforced breaks anyway due to rivers running dry and green fingered room building not being possible in his current living circumstances. So sad to see equipment gathering dust (and no, that's not a euphemism).

    Perhaps the self propelled two wheel mode of tansport should be employed more often, but his work is 28 miles from home and he isn't as fit as he once was (and worse yet, is still just as lazy). :(
     
  10. Mona Lisa

    Mona Lisa Gold Member

    Reputation Points:
    460
    Messages:
    493
    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2006
    from U.S.A.
    That's too bad, because I love cycling. If you got yourself really fit, you could probably get to work in about an hour and 45 minutes, but I agree that it's really too far to make it realistically possible. I cycle into work but it's only about 6 miles each way.
     
  11. stoneinfocus

    stoneinfocus Silver Member

    Reputation Points:
    210
    Messages:
    1,409
    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2006
    ther were some studies on pub med (abandoned for ethical reason) that proposed an enhaced ability of driving cars under amphetamine.

    I think this is true, if you know what you´re doing and know the effect a drug has on you, you are well suited to make your own decision of driving or not driving.

    Unfortunately alcohol is a reference drug, that in the public mind is applied to limited driving capabilites on (all) other drugs, with the tiny flaw, that whilst the more drunk you get, the more you don´t care that you can´t drive.

    On other drugs you may well or better asses your driving-capabilities, by knowing you, being too stoned, too tripped on a pill or too drowsy on age, or downers or you knowthat mdma is not fordriving.

    I still think being awake on amfetamines, having slept the night before, minimizes the risk of crashing or falling asleep. (what will hapen to the lorry drivers if this law applies? *lol*)

    I think this is why the airforce gives amfetamine to their pilots during long flights, they can´t afford tired pilots crashing and ruining expensive planes, resp. a pilot´s education, if he loses his life...

    I wonder how little faith we have in freedom and of our own capabilities, as if we´re getting used to being capitalistic cattle for the system and the rich behind it.
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2007
  12. FuBai

    FuBai Gold Member

    Reputation Points:
    1,393
    Messages:
    737
    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2007
    from U.K.
    As I said in the "drugged driving thread" we should be testing for impairment/intoxication and not the drugs themselves. Ask yourself "what is the purpose of drug driving laws?" Well the purpose is to prevent harm caused by intoxicated and dangerous driving, to ensure that reaction levels are quick enough etc. That's what we are worried about when we think about people drug driving - it's not the fact they're on a drug, not the fact that they use drugs, but the possible harm that that might cause to others on the road. If it is demonstrable that, even though there may be drugs and their metabolites present in the blood stream, there was no impairment of ability to drive then there if no action to punish as the individual poses no greater threat to others than any normal, un-drugged driver. We need to be more subtle and thoughtful about how we approach law making and stop having these knee-jerk reactions to perceived problems. Just because one person makes a gross generalisation by saying that all drugged drivers are a threat doesn't mean they are. Let's be sensible and asses the factors that really effect driving, rather than being overly simplistic and just jumping straight for the easy target - drugs.