190% increase in drug drive arrest since new laws introduced
In the last year within South Wales Police drug drive arrests have risen by over 190% after the government introduced tough new laws to catch and convict offenders, according to initial figures.
A new easy-to-use roadside swab test which can catch drug offenders was introduced on 2 March last year. To mark the first anniversary, the government is launching a new advertising campaign targeted at young men who are most likely to drug drive – to make it clear that if you drug drive, you’re more likely to be caught and convicted as a result of the roadside swab
Martyn Stone, Chief Inspector Specialist Operations for South Wales Police said:
“Drug driving is a serious crime, it threatens life and can cause suffering to many. South Wales Police will be distributing literature to officers, staff and the community about the campaign to raise awareness about this important issue. The penalties for drug driving are the same as for a drink driving.”
“If a person is convicted they could face a minimum of 12 months driving ban, a criminal record, an unlimited fine, up to 6 months in prison and an endorsement on their driving licence for 11 years.
“The consequences of being convicted of drug driving are far greater than first realised, can include job loss, personal shame, increase in car insurance cost and travel restrictions to certain countries.
South Wales Police officers will be continuing business as usual, testing drivers they expect of being under the influence. Even if a driver passes the roadside check, they can still be arrested if the officer suspects that the driver is impaired by drugs.
Road Safety Minister Andrew Jones said:
“Thanks to our tougher law, police are catching and convicting more dangerous drivers.
“The government will continue to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with police as they work tirelessly to protect the public while recognising enforcement alone is not the answer. We need to educate and influence behaviour change which is why we are pushing on with our THINK! campaign, which has helped change attitudes towards drink-driving and ultimately save lives.”
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, and nearly 50% were positive showing how well the police have been in targeting suspected offenders. Within South Wales there was 26 people arrested for drug offences.
The drug drive law changes in England and Wales have made it illegal to drive with 17 controlled drugs above a specified limit in the blood. Motorists who get behind the wheel after taking illegal drugs face a criminal record, loss of their licence for at least a year and an unlimited fine. It remains an offence to drive while impaired, by any drug at any amount.
Drugs that can be tested for at the roadside are cannabis and cocaine, while the evidential laboratory test can identify all the drugs covered by the law including ecstasy, LSD, ketamine and heroin.
Visit www.gov.uk/drug-driving-lawfor further detail on the drug driving law.
Contact South Wales Police on John.Williams6@south-wales.pnn.police.uk or 07966751815 for interview opportunities and more information.
Notes to Editors
Between March 2015 and February 2016 South Wales Police made 350 drug drive arrests.
Between March 2014 and February 2015 South Wales Police made 120 drug drive arrests.
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.
This will be complemented by digital display, social media and displays in pub and club washrooms to reach young men when they are planning, or are on, a night out.
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