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New drug law soon to take effect

A new U.K. government drug-drive legislation is scheduled to become effective March 2, 2015, in England and Wales. The new law is designed to stop people who choose to drive after taking prescription drugs that impair their driving ability. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jonathan Light/Released)

A new U.K. government drug-drive legislation is scheduled to become effective March 2, 2015, in England and Wales. The new law is designed to stop people who choose to drive after taking prescription drugs that impair their driving ability. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jonathan Light/Released)

RAF MILDENHALL, England -- A new drug-drive legislation is scheduled to become effective March 2, 2015, in England and Wales.

Team Mildenhall members must be aware of all current and new laws in the U.K.

"The new drug-driving law sets limits at very low levels for eight drugs commonly associated with illegal use, such as cannabis and cocaine," said Lt. Col. Seth Deam, 100th Air Refueling Wing staff judge advocate. "There are also eight prescription drugs that are included within the new law."

The following are the eight prescription drugs to include their trade names in parentheses that the new law affects:
· Clonazepam (Klonopin)
· Diazepam (Valium)
· Flunitrazepam (Rohypnol)
· Lorazepam (Ativan)
· Oxazepam (Serax)
· Temazepam (Restoril)
· Methadone (Methadose, Dolophine)
· Morphine (Contin, Duramorph)

The limits that have been set for the eight prescription drugs have been set above the normal prescribed doses. Therefore, the vast majority of people can drive as they normally would as long as they are taking their medicine in accordance with the advice of a healthcare professional and/or as printed in the accompanying prescription drug leaflet.

"If you're taking your medicine as directed and your driving is not impaired, then you're not breaking the law and there is no need to worry," said Robert Goodwill, Road Safety minister. "We advise anyone who is unsure about the effects of their medication or how the legislation may affect them, to seek the advice from their doctor or pharmacist."

The new law is designed to catch people who risk their lives and the lives of other people by getting behind the wheel after taking drugs, rather than those who are taking prescription medication that doesn't impair their driving ability.

A medical defense will be provided if a driver is taking medication as directed and is found to be over the limit but not impaired.

Goodwill said drivers who are taking prescribed medication at high doses should carry evidence with them, such as prescription slips, when driving in order to minimize any inconvenience should they be asked to take a test by the police.

Team Mildenhall members should not get behind the wheel if they feel impaired. If someone has any concerns, they should contact their doctor for clarity.

"Don't stop taking your medicines, prescribed or otherwise, if you're worried about the new law," said Professor David Taylor, Royal Pharmaceutical Society spokesperson and member of the Department for Transport advisor panel on drug-driving. "Talk to your doctor or pharmacist for information about how your medicines might affect your ability to drive. They'll be happy to give you the advice you need to stay safe."