New drug-driving laws spearheaded by a local newspaper following the death of a teenage girl killed by a driver who had been smoking cannabis were announced as part of the Queen’s Speech today.
Lillian’s Law was launched by the Croydon Advertiser and the family of 14-year-old Lillian Groves last August.
It called for new laws which would make roadside drugs testing compulsory and ensure tougher sentences for those causing fatal accidents as a result of taking drugs before driving.
Reporter Gareth Davies joined forces with Lillian’s family to launch the campaign after the driver of the car, who had been smoking cannabis, was given just eight months in prison following the incident in 2010.
In today’s Queen speech, which sets out the Government’s plans, it was announced that under the Crime and Courts Bill police will be equipped with handheld detection devices to test saliva at the roadside in a similar way to using a breathalyser to test for alcohol.
Driving under the influence of drugs is set become an offence in itself with those found flouting the laws facing a fine of up to £5,000, a driving ban of at least 12 months as well as a prison term.
The exact drugs covered by the offence and the specified limits for each will be decided following advice from a scientific review panel and public consultation.
Croydon Advertiser editor Glenn Ebrey said: “Lillian’s Law is a campaign which has grabbed the attention not just of the Advertiser’s readership, but also the whole country.
“Gareth deserves immense praise for all his hard work throughout the campaign but without the impetus provided by the passion and determination of Lillian’s family, this result would never have been achieved.
“This was clearly a law that had to be changed and I’m glad the campaign has helped the decision-makers see sense and make sure this loophole is tightened up.”
The move has also been welcomed by the motoring website motors.co.uk which recently carried out a survey showing 86pc of drivers in favour of the move.
Commercial director Phil Jones said: “The penalties for drink driving laws are justifiably harsh, so there is absolutely no reason why the same consequences should not be applicable to those driving under the influence of narcotics.”
The Crime and Courts Bill will also include a measure allowing television cameras to go into some courts in England and Wales.
Ministers say they want to “demystify” the justice system but the plan is expected to exclude broadcasting images of a defendant or witnesses.