Amongst the drugs that the new Drug Driving laws has set limits for there is one notable absence. Amphetamine is a commonly abused drug and yet does not feature on the list. This is curious because a number of other prescription drugs are on the list so it seems strange that this is missed off.
There was a specific issue with amphetamine. It was accepted by the government that this drug was used as a treatment for ADHD. The expert evidence was that drivers who suffer from ADHD drive better whilst under the influence of prescribed amphetamine. For this reason the government postponed placing amphetamine on the list whilst they carried out further studies. This is likely to affect very few prescription users of amphetamine. The majority of ADHD sufferers are under 17 although there are also adults who suffer from this it. The inclusion of a limit would have affected very few drivers.
Amphetamine is not the most common treatment for ADHD in the UK. The most common is methylphenidate (such as Ritalin), a substance chemically similar to amphetamine, but is less liable to misuse.
The Crime survey for England and Wales reported that those that reported driving under the influence of illegal drugs at least once or twice in the last 12 months 30% reported using amphetamine in the same time period. In killed drivers amphetamine was the third most prevalent detected drug in European drug use surveys.
Four European countries have a limit for amphetamine; Netherlands, France, Sweden and Norway. The recommendations from the government’s drug driving expert panel was that a threshold in whole blood for amphetamine be set at 600 µg/L
The government took the view that it was better to get the ball rolling with the less problematic drugs and add others later on. Whether this is the correct approach remains to be seen.
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