The drug driving legislation in the UK is still pretty new but statistics are coming in to show us the extent of the drug driving problem but also how effective the new legislation is being. The Institute of Advanced Motorists has revealed the true scale of drug driving in England and Wales and has found that over 400 people a month have been arrested for the offence already.
The Institute of Advanced Motorists collated their information after making a Freedom of Information request that asked every police force area in England and Wales to reveal the number of arrests made for the new offence, since its introduction in March 2015.
The Institute of Advanced Motorists study found that 902 drug driving arrests in total were made by forces in England and Wales and this worked out to an average of one person every three days for this ‘new’ crime. The results also showed that there is very little consistency in the testing yet, with police forces test rate ranging from over 200 in some areas and none in others.
The highest number of arrests were recorded by the Metropolitan Police with Northumbria Police, Cheshire Constabulary, Sussex Police and South Yorkshire Police following close behind, although the Metropolitan Polices’ 214 arrest rate was more than double the next highest amount, 97 in Northumbria. The other end of the scale shows that Leicestershire, Gwent and Warwickshire Police have yet to make a single arrest for this offence since the new law.
Drugs could be a factor in 200 road deaths a year
The new laws were introduced in England and Wales on 2nd March and they set limits at very low levels for eight drugs commonly associated with illegal use, including cannabis and cocaine. Eight further prescription drugs were included on the list.
Police now have access to drugalyser technology which allows them to screen for both cannabis and cocaine on the roadside and even if a roadside check is passed, the police are still able to take them to the police station for ecstasy, LSD, heroin, ketamine and other drug tests.
The 2010 North Report, which looked at the prevalent of illegal drug use amongst drivers in Great Britain found that as many as 200 road deaths a year could have been attributed to some degree to drug use and they also found that 6%o of drivers aged between 17 and 39 claimed to have driven under the influence of drugs at some point in their lives.
The new drug driving laws are exactly that, new, and therefore police forces are working to deliver consistency across the country, as arrest rates show varying levels of commitment and use of the new law. Speaking on behalf of the Institute of Advanced Motorist, chief executive office Sarah Sillars stated that we need a sustained campaign to back up police enforcement to make drug driving as socially unacceptable as drink driving.