Police have issued a reminder to motorists of the potentially fatal consequences of driving whilst under the influence of both legal and illegal narcotics.
The Government passed a new law on March 2nd 2015, that rendered it illegal to drive while over the specified limits of 17 legal and illegal drugs.
The third year anniversary of the legislation has brought a reminder from police officers that this law is now being enforced more firmly than ever.
A shocking 62 arrests related to drug-driving were made in the year prior to the new legislation (2nd March 2014 – 1st March 2015).
Surprisingly, after the new legislation was passed the statistics for this type of crime have steadily risen. 325 arrests were made between 2nd March 2015 and 1st March 2016. A further 558 were made in the subsequent year, between 2nd March 2016 and 1st March 2017.
Chief Inspector Warren Franklin, of the Surrey and Sussex Roads Policing Unit, said:
“Prior to the introduction of this drug-driving law, we had to rely on a roadside impairment test to prove a driver was under the influence of drugs. Now, with this new legislation and the DrugWipe kit – a tool which tests for a number of drugs at the roadside – we can prove it in a matter of minutes.
“This makes is a lot easier to catch and convict criminals, and this is reflected in the increased number of arrests made since the law was introduced.
“What hasn’t changed is our stance on roads policing – we have a zero tolerance approach to drug-driving, and anyone caught committing this offence will be dealt with robustly.”
One of the most shocking drug-driving incidents to occur last year was a motorist that was found to be more than 16 times over the drug limit. The driver was found to be under the influence of cocaine after he was involved in a two-vehicle collision in Chichester, in February 2017.
He was identified as Martin Roberts, 24, of Uphill Way, Hunston, Chichester. He was charged with driving with more than 800mcg of benzoylecgonine and 33mcg of cocaine per litre of blood in his system. He was also charge with possession of a weapon designed for the discharge of a noxious liquid, namely CS gas.
Roberts was disqualified from driving for 18 months and sentenced to a 12-month community order, on 13th June 2017, at Worthing Magistrates’ Court. The order required 150 hours of unpaid work. He was also ordered to pay £85 costs and a £85 victim surcharge.
A drug-driving conviction can include an unlimited fine, a prison sentence of up to six months and a minimum 12-month driving ban.
The new 2017 drug-driving legislation sets the acceptable limits for each drug extremely low. These levels have been intended to include accidental exposure to drugs.
Surrey and Sussex Police are working closely with Sussex Safer Roads Partnership and DriveSmart in Surrey to improve education around drug-driving and the enforcement of these laws.
Chief Insp Franklin added:
“The consequences of drug-driving can be catastrophic, and it is well documented that driving under the influence of drink or drugs is one of the four most common causes of fatal and serious injury collisions in the UK.
“Drug-driving is stupid, it’s irresponsible and it’s downright dangerous. Anyone who does so risks killing themselves, their passengers or other innocent road users. They also risk losing their job and their licence, in addition to a criminal record, increased car insurance costs and trouble getting into countries including the USA.”
To find out more, visit THINK!’s drug-driving page online.
If you suspect someone of drink or drug-driving you can text officers on 65999 with the details, or visit the Operation Crackdown website.
You can also contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or report it online.
If you know someone is driving while over the limit or after taking drugs, call 999.