THE Scottish Government plans to set drug-driving limits and introduce roadside testing to catch drivers who break the law.

Justice secretary Michael Matheson announced the move in a pledge to build on Scotland's tough drink-driving limits.

The plans are set to be published later this year with a view to implementing the new limits and testing in 2019.

It is currently illegal to drive while impaired by drugs but the Scottish Government hopes the move will lead to an increase in successful prosecutions.

Mr Matheson said: “While it is a long-standing offence to drive while impaired by drugs, by introducing new drug driving limits and roadside testing for the presence of drugs, we will strengthen the ability of our police and prosecutors to tackle the minority of drivers who recklessly put other road-users and themselves at risk.

“Under the new offence, evidence of impaired driving will not be required with our law enforcement agencies instead able to investigate and prosecute on the basis of a driver being above the specified limits for individual drug types.

“Subject to Parliament’s agreement and once the new regime is in force, Scotland will be at forefront of efforts across the UK to tackle drivers who either drink or take drugs – with both the lowest drink-drive limit operating in these islands and drug-driving limits in place.”

Drivers face a minimum 12-month driving ban, up to 6 months in prison and a fine of up to a £5,000 if found guilty of driving while impaired by drugs.

Police Scotland's head of road policing, Chief Superintendent Andy Edmonston said: “I welcome this proposed legislation, as anything designed to make our roads safer can only be to the public good. Police Scotland looks forward to working closely with our partners and the Scottish Government in the run-up to the introduction of the legislation in 2019 to ensure we are properly prepared.

“I would also remind motorists that it is currently illegal to drive whilst unfit through drugs and that remains a focus for Police Scotland.”