Four drivers a day convicted of drug-driving offences
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.