The government has reported that an ever increasing amount of arrests for drug driving are being made after the introduction of new legislation in 2015.
The Department for Transport has released figures that show a marked level of arrests made by police for the newly made offence of drug driving. Quoting figured from Cheshire Police the arrest level has increased 800% from a mere 70 in the previous year to some 530.
In March 2015 legislation was brought in to create the new offence in relation to 17 illegal and prescription drugs. Before the new legislation police had to show that a person’s driving had been impaired through drugs when bringing a prosecution.
In an effort to reinforce prosecuting the offence of drug driving police have been awarded and extra £1 million to train officers, purchase new drug screening equipment and test for the illegal and prescription substances.
Under the new legislation police have the power to administer a road side swab test to check for cannabis and cocaine. However, this not the end of it as further tests for the remaining substances can be carried out at the police station.
It should be noted that people are not currently being penalised for using prescription drugs including morphine and methadone if they are remaining within the prescribed limits.
A spokes person for the Department of Transport stated 1800 screening tests for drug driving were carried out over the Christmas period for 2015 throughout England and Wales, with around half of them giving a positive result.
Andrew Jones MP, the Road Safety Minster 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.”
Cheshire Chief Constable Simon Byrne said his officers had taken a “no nonsense approach to target criminals who use our road networks”.
A recent survey conducted by the AA interestingly found that some 88% of drivers were in support of the clampdown on drug driving.
The president of the AA, Edmund Kind stated: “Drug-driving is often the hidden killer on UK roads. We need to make it as anti-social as drink-driving. The new law and greater enforcement will help achieve this.”
It should be noted that the new drug driving legislation only applies to England and Wales although in Scotland and Northern Ireland drivers can still be arrested for driving whilst unfit through drugs.