More than half of drivers stopped on suspicion of drug-driving are failing roadside tests for illicit substances, police figures show. Testing kits were introduced a year ago but already the results have caused concern that there is a nationwide epidemic of drug-drivers.
According to a survey of police forces, about 63 per cent of the 5,857 motorists stopped were using cocaine, cannabis or other banned highs. In total, officers have caught more than 3,700 people for drug-driving.
Just ten per cent of motorists who took roadside alcohol breath tests were found to be over the limit in 2013.
Politicians warned that they raised 'massive concern' about just how many people were now under the influence of a substance while driving, which causes 200 deaths on the roads every year. The roadside 'drugalyser' devices, described as being "as simple as a pregnancy kit", use a saliva swab to allow police to identify substances within minutes.
The kits can detect illegal drugs such as cannabis, cocaine and ecstasy as well as prescription drugs typically used for insomnia or anxiety that have been taken above prescribed doses. Motorists convicted of drug-driving face a minimum of a year's ban, an unlimited fine and up to six months' in prison, although the majority are handed a short ban and a fine. The Daily Mail received responses from 36 of the 43 forces in England and Wales, of which 26 provided figures covering March last year to the end of February this year.
They revealed that police had carried out 5,857 roadside drug tests, with 3,718 testing positive. The rate was 63 per cent on average, but in one force - Sussex - it was 82 per cent.
In Northamptonshire the figure was 62 per cent, and 58 per cent in South Yorkshire. Cheshire Police said 57 per cent of the 863 drivers it stopped were drug-drivers, while for Scotland Yard 344 out of 699 tests were positive - about 50 per cent. Had all the forces supplied figures, it is likely the number of people caught for drug-driving would be significantly higher. Labour MP Rob Flello said: “Law-abiding drivers should be very wary as these numbers show the chances of coming across a drugged-up driver are dangerously high.”
Road policing chief Suzette Davenport said: "If that is representative of what is going on it is worrying for us and the public. We have some real challenges."
The Telegraph/March 2019, 2016
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In the UK, More Than Half the Drivers Stopped and Tested for Drugged-Driving Fail