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Over 400 people a month arrested for drug-driving

  • New research reveals how many drug-driving arrests have been made
  • New drug-driving laws came into effect in March
  • There’s little consistency in testing and arrests across forces

The Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) has revealed results of drug-driving arrests in the UK since new laws came into force on March 2.

A Freedom of Information request was made asking every police force area in England and Wales for the number of arrests made for the new offence. IAM’s findings show 902 drug-drive arrests in total and on average police arrested almost one person every three days.

According to IAM, there is little consistency in testing and arrests across England and Wales with figures ranging from 200-plus in one police force down to zero in others.

The Metropolitan Police recorded the highest number of arrests, with 214 in just over two months which equates to three drivers every day since the law was changed. Next up was Northumbria Police with 97, then Cheshire Constabulary with 70, Sussex Police with 58 and South Yorkshire Police with 55.

At the opposite end of the scale Leicestershire Police, Warwickshire Police and Gwent Police have yet to make any arrests at all for this offence in the first two months of its existence.

The new laws set limits at very low levels for eight drugs commonly associated with illegal use, such as cannabis and cocaine. Eight prescription drugs were also included within the new law including diazepam, methadone and morphine.

Police are able to use a "drugalyser" to screen for cannabis and cocaine at the roadside. Even if a driver passes the roadside check, officers will still be able to test at a police station for ecstasy, LSD, ketamine and heroin as well as other drugs.

Sarah Sillars, IAM chief executive officer, said: “It is very clear that the new drug driving law has just scratched the surface of a much bigger issue. We are delighted that the legislation has been introduced and people are being caught.

“We have reached a point where drink-driving has become socially unacceptable, particularly amongst younger people. We now need a sustained campaign to back up the police enforcement effort and ensure drug-driving is seen in exactly the same way. The effects of driving under the influence of drugs can be devastating.”