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Drivers should be aware of new prescription law

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A new law on drug-driving will start on 2 March A new law on drug-driving will start on 2 March

Patients taking common prescriptions medications may be affected by a new law concerning drug-driving, and may seek advice on their medication from healthcare professionals as a result.

While the law is broadly targeted at those who endanger lives by using narcotics such as cannabis and cocaine before driving, the list of restricted substances also includes eight common prescription drugs. These are: clonazepam; diazepam; flunitrazepam; lorazepam; oxazepam; temazepam; methadone; and morphine.

The law sets out very low limits on these drugs. However, these are greater than usual doses, meaning that most people will still be able to drive normally. Essentially, as long as a driver is taking medicine in accordance with a health professional's advice, and their driving is not impaired, they will be unaffected by the law.

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

Drivers who are taking prescribed medication at high doses should also be encouraged by healthcare professionals to carry evidence with them, such as prescriptions slips, when driving in order to minimise any inconvenience should they be asked to take a test by the police.

David Taylor, professor of pharmaceutical and public health policy at University College, London , said: 'Don't stop taking your medicines, prescribed or otherwise, if you are worried about this new law. Instead, talk to your doctor or pharmacist for information about how your medicines might affect your ability to drive.'

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