Drug driving now carries the same penalties as drink driving, and to mark six months since the change in legislation, South Yorkshire Police and South Yorkshire Safer Roads Partnership have launched a campaign aimed at raising awareness of the consequences should you get behind the wheel of your car while under the influence of drugs.
On March 2, this year, the law changed regarding drug driving. Previously it was only an offence under Section 4 of the Road Traffic Act (RTA) 1988, driving whilst unfit through drink or drug. It is now an offence underSection 5A Road Traffic Act 1988, driving while over the prescribed limit (OPL), as with drink driving.
There are legal and illegal drugs that are included under the new law and limits have been set by the Government for both.
Roadside drugs kits are now used by officers if they suspect a driver may have drugs in their system, alongside field impairment tests that have always been used when a driver is suspected of being under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
The kits highlight within minutes if a driver has either class A drug cocaine or class B drug cannabis in their system, resulting in the driver being arrested and taken into custody where a blood sample is taken and sent away to the lab to determine the actual amounts of the drug present.
100 drivers were arrested in December for drink and drug related offences. That is an average of 3 per day.
In the first 3 days of the campaign 8 people arrested for drink/drug related driving offences, on the very morning during the ‘official’ launch (4th Dec) the 9th driver was arrested.
By 12th December 36 people arrested had been arrested and by the 19th December that number had risen to 57.