Drug drive arrests have soared by up to 800% in the 12 months since the introduction of new laws which make it easier to catch and convict offenders, according to figures from police forces.
The new roadside swab test was introduced on 2 March 2015. To mark the first anniversary, the DfT is launching a new THINK! campaign targeting young men, the road user group most likely to drug drive.
Using headlines including ‘It’s like a breathalyser for drugs’, the new campaign is designed to make it clear that drug drivers are more likely to be caught and convicted as a result of the roadside swab.
The campaign will run in cinema, on radio, and online from 2 March. This will be complemented by digital displays, social media and displays in pub and club washrooms to reach young men when they are planning, or are on, a night out.
Campaign resources for road safety professionals include an updated version of the ‘Paranoia’ film used in the 2015 drug drive campaign (English and Welsh versions), a set of posters and a postcard, digital and social media assets, and a radio ad. All of these resources can be accessed via the THINK! Asset Manager and the members’ area of this website, where there is also a campaign briefing for RSOs.
Andrew Jones, road safety minister, said: “Thanks to our tougher law, police are catching and convicting more dangerous drivers.
“The government will continue to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with police as they work tirelessly to protect the public while recognising enforcement alone is not the answer.
“We need to educate and influence behaviour change which is why we are pushing on with our THINK! campaign, which has helped change attitudes towards drink-driving and ultimately save lives.”
The drug drive law changes in England and Wales have made it illegal to drive with 17 controlled drugs above a specified limit in the blood. Drugs that can be tested for at the roadside are cannabis and cocaine, while the evidential laboratory test can identify all the drugs covered by the law including ecstasy, LSD, ketamine and heroin.
Figures from Cheshire Police show officers have arrested eight times as many suspected drug drivers since the introduction of the new legislation – 530 in the period March 2015 to January 2016, compared with just 70 in the whole of 2014.
Simon Byrne, Cheshire’s Chief Constable, said: “Our figures speak for themselves. We have taken a no nonsense approach to using this new legislation as part of our wider work to target criminals who use our road networks.”
Under the new drug-driving laws once suspects are charged, 98% have been convicted – compared to 80% previously.
During the Christmas 2015 drink and drug drive campaign, 1,888 drug screening tests were carried out in just one month across England and Wales, and nearly 50% were positive showing how well the police have been in targeting suspected offenders.