With the holiday season upon us, the police are gearing up for a festive crackdown on drug driving. Tough new drug driving laws, coupled with better detection technology, are taking dangerous drivers off the roads in record numbers. Partner Hannah Jones comments “Improved detection makes it quicker to identify those driving under the influence of drugs and helps the prosecution of drug drivers”.
A law introduced in 2015 makes it illegal to drive with certain drugs in the body above specified limits, and includes 8 illegal drugs and 9 prescription drugs. If caught, drivers can lose their licence for at least a year, be fined up to £5,000 or even end up in prison. About 1,500 motorists annually in the UK – about 4 a day – are convicted for offences including being in charge of, attempting to drive, or causing death after exceeding the legal drug limit.
A report on enforcement of the laws shows that of the drivers who underwent a preliminary drug screening, approximately 94% were male and 64% were aged between 16 and 29 years. Ninety eight percent of drivers that were subsequently taken to court were convicted. The research also shows these laws are disrupting wider criminal activity as two-thirds of people caught drug-driving have previously committed other offences. Merseyside Police reported 21 arrests in March for drug driving offences, the majority of whom were criminally active in the recent past or were members of organised criminal groups.
Before the new law came into force, police would have to gather evidence that the driver was impaired, which would include carrying out tests or getting a medical opinion, before being able to take a blood or urine sample at a station. Police forces now have access to improved screening equipment to test suspected drug drivers for cannabis and cocaine at the roadside. They are also able to test for other drugs such as ecstasy, LSD, ketamine and heroin at a police station with a blood test, even if a driver passes the roadside check. It makes it quicker to identify those driving under the influence of drugs and helps the prosecution of drug drivers.
If you would like assistance in in relation to a motoring offence, call Hannah on 023 9282 0747 for further information.