Nearly half of drug-drive screening tests carried out over Christmas were found to be positive according to initial government figures.
During the Christmas 2015 drink and drug-drive campaign, 1,888 drug screening tests were carried out in just one month across England and Wales with nearly 50% were positive.
A year after the government introduced new drug-drive laws, police in Cheshire arrested eight times as many suspected drug drivers than in 2014, with over 530 from March 2015 to January 2016 – up from 70 for the entirety of the previous year.
On 2 March 2015 it became an offence in England and Wales to drive with even small amounts of 17 legal and illegal drugs in your system, including cannabis, cocaine, ecstasy and ketamine. The law removed the need to prove the driver was “impaired” and set the levels so low, it effectively brought in a zero tolerance when it comes to drug driving. The offence carries an automatic 12-month driving ban, a fine of up to £5,000 and a prison sentence of up to six months.
Cheshire Chief Constable Simon Byrne said: “Cheshire Police’s figures speak for themselves. We have taken a no nonsense approach to using this new legislation as part of our wider work to target criminals who use our road networks.”
Meanwhile, in a survey from road safety charity Brake and Direct Line, one-in-14 drivers (7%) admitted they drove at least once a month after having taken drugs.
The survey also found one-in-12 people (8%) thought they had probably or definitely been a passenger in the last year, in a car driven by someone who had taken drugs and one-in-six people (16%) said they would get in a car with a drug driver.
Rob Miles, director of car insurance at Direct Line, said: “The significant increase in drug-driving convictions since the change in the law last year should serve as a serious deterrent to those considering getting behind the wheel after taking drugs. This is testament to how, when road safety issues are given due prominence, positive change can be achieved.”