Nearly 25,000 motorists in England and Wales have failed a drug-drive test since new legislation came into force in March 2015, figures have revealed. (BBC News)
Designed to make it easier for police to catch and convict drug drivers, the new law came into effect on 2 March 2015 and made it illegal to drive with certain drugs in the body above specified levels – including eight illegal drugs and eight prescription drugs.
Data obtained by BBC News from 40 police forces shows 8,336 drivers tested positive for cannabis and 3,064 for cocaine between March 2015 and January 2018.
At 4,491, Cheshire Police carried out the most drug-driving tests – followed by the Metropolitan Police (3,254), Essex Police (1,857), West Mercia Police (1,704) and Merseyside Police (1,517).
The data suggests about 43% of the tests returned positive – based on results from the 24 forces that were able to provide the total number of tests as well as the number of positive results.
The Government says the ‘tough’ new laws are leading to more dangerous drivers being caught.
A spokesman for the DfT told the BBC: “Drug-driving is completely unacceptable. It puts lives at risk and we are determined to crack down on any road users who break the law by driving under the influence.
“Thanks to the tougher laws we have introduced, police are catching and convicting more dangerous drivers.”
However, the road safety charity Brake says the figures ‘hint at the true scale’ of drug-driving and should serve as a ‘wake-up call’ to the Government.
Joshua Harris, director of campaigns at Brake, said: “At present, only devices which can screen for cannabis and cocaine are in use, limiting the police’s ability to detect drug-driving at the roadside.
“The Government must prioritise the approval of roadside screening devices that can detect all banned drugs and step up road policing levels to deter offending.”