Access to improved screening equipment means motorists are now just as likely to be convicted for driving under the influence of drugs as they are for drink driving, according to new Government research.
In a press release issued on Sunday (27 August), the DfT says the better technology means courts are punishing drug drive offenders in ‘record numbers’.
The DfT adds that new drug driving laws are ‘taking more dangerous drivers off roads’, pointing to its research which shows that conviction rates have risen to 98%.
The research also shows that of the drivers who underwent a preliminary drug screening, approximately 94% were male and 64% were aged between 16-29 years.
Introduced in March 2015, the legislation makes it illegal in England and Wales to drive with certain drugs in the body above specified levels. This includes eight illegal drugs and eight prescription drugs.
The new law is also designed to make it easier to catch and convict drug drivers, with police forces given access to improved screening equipment to test suspected drug drivers for cannabis and cocaine at the roadside.
Under the law, police forces are now able to test for other drugs – such as ecstasy and ketamine – at a police station with a blood test, even if a driver passes the roadside check.
Before the new law came into force, police would have to gather evidence that the driver was impaired, which would include carrying out tests or getting a medical opinion, before being able to take a blood or urine sample at a station.
Paul Maynard, transport minister, said: “Driving under the influence of drugs has no place in our society. It devastates families and ruins lives.
“Our tough approach has taken dangerous drivers off our roads and is stopping other crimes taking place.
“With higher prosecutions and convictions, we are delivering on our clear message that if you take drugs and drive, you will face the consequences.”
Chief constable Anthony Bangham, National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) lead for roads policing, said: “Targeted legislation against drug driving in March 2015 has made it much easier for police to consistently identify those driving under the influence of drugs.
“This change in law has enabled us to prosecute thousands more dangerous drivers who may have previously escaped detection yet still presented a very serious threat to other road users.”
New legislation leads to 867% rise in drug drive convictions
27 January 2017
Category: Drug driving.