New figures have revealed that almost 25,000 motorists across England and Wales have tested positive for drug driving. Data from 40 police forces collected between March 2015 – January 2018 revealed that 8,336 drivers tested positive for cannabis and 3,064 for cocaine.
Current drug-drive legislation was enforced in March 2015 and introduced legal driving limits for prescription drugs and traces of 8 illegal drugs. The different drugs covered in the legislation are listed below:
|Illegal’ drugs (‘accidental exposure’ – zero tolerance approach)||Threshold limit in microgrammes per litre of blood (µg/L)|
|lysergic acid diethylamide||1µg/L|
|‘Medicinal’ drugs (risk based approach)||Threshold limit in blood|
|Separate approach (to balance its risk)||Threshold limit in blood|
The current law enables Police to conduct field impairment tests at roadside if they suspect someone of driving under the influence. A suspected user can then be arrested and brought to a police station for a blood test to be carried out.
Police are also equipped with a roadside drug test kit that screens for cannabis and cocaine. Road safety campaigners are concerned however that this isn’t enough.
Joshua Harris, director of campaigns at Brake, said:
“At present, only devices which can screen for cannabis and cocaine usage are in use, limiting the police’s ability to detect drug-driving at the roadside.
“The government must prioritise the approval of roadside screening devices that can detect all banned drugs and step up road policing levels to deter offending.”
According to figures obtained by the BBC, an average of 43% of drug-drive tests are positive. The table below outlines total tests conducted by 10 forces across England and Wales and how many of the tests returned positive results:
With increased testing and the inevitable development of roadside drug testing kits safety on the roads should increase. On this topic a spokesman from the Department of Transport said:
“Drug-driving is completely unacceptable. It puts lives at risk and we are determined to crack down on any road users who break the law by driving under the influence.
“Thanks to the tougher laws we have introduced, police are catching and convicting more dangerous drivers.”
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