Four driv­ers a day con­victed of drug-driv­ing of­fences

Wales On Sunday - - NEWS -

AN av­er­age of al­most four mo­torists a day are be­ing con­victed for drug­driv­ing of­fences, fol­low­ing the in­tro­duc­tion of new laws in 2015, ac­cord­ing to new re­search.

And the con­vic­tion rate for drug­driv­ing of­fences stands at 98%, around the same as for drink-driv­ing, said the Depart­ment for Trans­port in a re­port.

Some 1,442 driv­ers were suc­cess­fully pros­e­cuted in the UK in 2015 for of­fences in­clud­ing be­ing in charge of or at­tempt­ing to drive a ve­hi­cle or caus­ing death by driv­ing while above the le­gal limit for a range of il­le­gal and medic­i­nal drugs. Those con­victed can lose their li­cence for at least a year, be fined up to £5,000 or be jailed.

The re­port found that 94% of driv­ers who un­der­went pre­lim­i­nary drug screen­ing were male and 64% aged be­tween 16-29 years.

Two-thirds of those con­victed had pre­vi­ously com­mit­ted other of­fences, with Mersey­side po­lice re­port­ing that a ma­jor­ity of those ar­rested for drug-driv­ing in one month were mem­bers of or­gan­ised crime groups or had re­cently been crim­i­nally ac­tive.

Leg­is­la­tion in­tro­duced under the Con­ser­va­tive/Lib­eral Demo­crat coali­tion gov­ern­ment al­lowed po­lice to use “dru­gal­y­sers” to test for cannabis and co­caine at the roadside. They can also test for sub­stances in­clud­ing ec­stasy, LSD, ke­tamine and heroin with blood tests at po­lice sta­tions, with­out hav­ing to first gather ev­i­dence that the driver was im­paired, as was pre­vi­ously the case.

And the law cov­ers a range of drugs with medic­i­nal uses which are of­ten abused, such as mor­phine, temazepam and am­phet­a­mines pre­scribed for at­ten­tion deficit hy­per­ac­tiv­ity dis- or­der. Na­tional Po­lice Chiefs’ Coun­cil spokesman Chief Constable An­thony Bang­ham said the leg­is­la­tion had made it “much eas­ier” for po­lice to 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,” he said.

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