Drug Driving Law: 12 months on
More people than ever before have been arrested for driving under the influence of drugs in North Wales, twelve months after a new law was introduced.
Since the new legislation began on March 2nd 2015, North Wales Police have made 159 arrests for driving under the influence of drugs.
The legislation sets limits at very low levels for eight drugs commonly associated with illegal use, such as cannabis and cocaine. Eight prescription drugs are also included in the law, including diazepam, methadone and morphine.
Police now use the ‘DrugWipe’ system which allows officers to determine in less than ten minutes, if a motorist has an illegal substance in their body, by using a swab from the driver’s mouth.
Any drivers who fail the test are taken to police custody where a sample of their blood is taken. The blood is then sent away to be examined and if illegal levels of a drug are found, that motorist faces being prosecuted for drug driving.
Acting Sergeant Trystan Bevan from North Wales Police’ Roads Policing Unit said: “Officers are better equipped than ever before to detect drug drivers at the roadside.
“You don’t have to be on illegal drugs to be unfit to drive – many prescription or over-the-counter medicines can also impair your ability to drive.
“Driving under the influence of drugs not only puts the offender and their passengers at risk but everyone else using the roads as well. In the same way that we take a zero tolerance approach to drink driving, we will also not tolerate drug driving.”
During the recent Christmas Drink/Drug Drive Campaign 35 people were arrested for drug driving on the roads of north Wales.
Officers spoke to a number of motorists who were unaware of the effects of drugs such as cannabis. Many didn’t know that regular users of cannabis could be affected for up to a month or even longer in some cases.
Sgt Bevan added: “It’s impossible to know for sure how a combination of drugs will affect any one person as everyone reacts differently. Our message is simple, if people choose to break the law and drive under the influence of drugs we are waiting to catch them.
“Officers are out every day looking for drug drivers but we also need the public’s help to catch them and remove them off the roads. If you know, or suspect someone is driving under the influence of drugs please contact us urgently – you could save a life.”
The penalty under the offence can be disqualification, a fine up to £5,000 and up to six months in prison.
The consequences of a drug drive conviction are far reaching and can include job loss, increase in car insurance costs and trouble getting into countries such as the USA.
To mark the first anniversary, THINK! is running a campaign with cinema, radio, and online videos to drive awareness showing that if you drug drive, you’re more likely to be caught and convicted as a result of the roadside swab.
Anybody who may have information regarding drug drivers should contact North Wales Police on 101. Alternatively contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
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