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Family's plea on drug-driving laws


Police will carry handheld drug detection devices, as well as breathalysers, under new proposals

Police will carry handheld drug detection devices, as well as breathalysers, under new proposals

Police will carry handheld drug detection devices, as well as breathalysers, under new proposals

The family of a teenager killed by a cannabis user have called for a "zero tolerance" approach to enforcing new laws on drug-driving.

Lillian Groves was 14 years old when she was knocked down in 2010 outside her home in New Addington, Croydon, south London. The driver, who was sentenced in July last year, went on to serve just four months in jail.

Her mother Natasha said there should be "no exceptions" in applying new measures announced by the Government to tackle drug-driving, adding: "Make it zero tolerance and that way everybody knows where they stand."

She told the BBC other families had come forward to back her family's campaign against drug-driving, saying: "Other families are starting to come forward. You think you are on your own but obviously there is a far wider problem, it is not just us out there on our own. It happens all the time."

Her family have campaigned for a "Lillian's law" including tougher sentencing for drug-drivers and a package of measures to ensure the offence is taken as seriously as drink-driving.

David Cameron has confirmed the Government will outlaw drug-driving and has praised the teenager's family for their "brave" campaign. The Prime Minister said it "simply can't be right" that the laws are not in place to punish drug-drivers properly. Motorists under the influence of illegal substances can only currently be prosecuted for being behind the wheel if police can prove their driving has been impaired.

Mr Cameron said: "I found meeting Lillian Groves's family in Downing Street late last year incredibly moving. As they said at the time, it simply can't be right that a schoolgirl like Lillian can lose her life and then we discover we don't have the laws or the technology to punish drug-drivers properly.

"We want to do for drug-driving what drink-driving laws have done for driving under the influence of alcohol. That's why we're doing what we can to get drugalysers rolled out more quickly. And this week we'll publish a new drug-driving offence so that driving under the influence of drugs itself is a crime, just like it is for drink-driving. Lillian Groves's family should be congratulated for their brave campaign. I hope now that something good can come out of their tragic loss."

Under the crackdown, proposed as part of a wider Crime, Communications and Court Bill in the coalition's new legislative programme, drug-driving will become a specific offence. Offenders will face up to six months in jail and fine of up to £5,000 as well as an automatic driving ban of at least 12 months.

Police will carry handheld drug detection devices, which will take a saliva sample, as well as a breathalyser to test erratic drivers. The machines are expected to receive approval from the Home Office by the end of the year. Road safety minister Mike Penning said a scientific review panel is looking at what drugs would be tested at the roadside and at what levels.