8,500 drivers were handed convictions for drug driving in 2016, the first full year since the legislation changed.
Announced by transport minister Andrew Jones in a speech at the National Roads Policing Conference yesterday (26 Jan), that figure represents a 867% rise from 2014, the last full year before the change, when 879 convictions were handed out.
Mr Jones also said the final total will be even higher because the data for the last six weeks of 2016 aren’t included in the figures.
In March 2015, new legislation came into effect making it illegal in England and Wales to drive with certain drugs in the body above specified levels. This included eight illegal drugs and eight prescription drugs.
The laws were introduced to make it easier for police, who previously had to show driving was impaired by drugs in order to prosecute, to catch offenders.
Those caught drug-driving face a minimum 12-month driving ban, up to six months in prison and an unlimited fine and a criminal record.
Mr Jones told the police officers in the audience: “That’s 8,500 people you have caught and successfully convicted of drug driving.
“8,500 dangerous drivers taken off our roads. People who were a danger to the public, banned from our roads. No doubt, lives saved. That’s a fantastic result.”
Mr Jones went on to say that £1m of government funding has been used to train 1,000 officers from police forces across England and Wales in ‘gathering evidence of impairment caused by drugs’.
In his speech to the event, Mr Jones also talked to delegates about drink driving and mobile phones. Click here to read the full transcript.
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