Cannabis behind drug driving rise

Several police forces arrested more drivers for drug driving than drink driving in December, according to a BBC investigation.

During the national Operation Limit conducted each Christmas, police forces increase breath testing and targeted stops of those suspected of being under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Last December, police forces made 6,616 arrests across England and Wales. According to figures obtained by the BBC, five regions including Merseyside and North Wales had more arrests for drugs than alcohol.


Merseyside Police, which called the problem “highly prevalent”, arrested 469 drug drivers and 191 drink drivers in December. North Wales Police arrested 90 over drugs and 67 over alcohol.

Chief Constable Jo Shiner, who is National Police Chiefs’ Council Lead for Roads Policing, said: “We’re definitely seeing more people who are driving under the influence of drugs. And there seems to be a social acceptance between those groups who do that, that it’s okay. It’s absolutely not.”

She added: “I think generally in society we’re seeing more use of cannabis, for example, and we are definitely seeing that when we are stopping and testing drivers.”

Drug drivers face a minimum one year driving ban, an unlimited fine and up to six months in prison. If convicted of causing death by careless driving, they can face a lifetime jail sentence.


Driving under the influence of drugs has also become a “a big problem” in the Republic of Ireland, according to a Garda traffic officer.

Sergeant Gavin Coleman told the Irish Mirror: “We’re catching an awful lot of people. It’s primarily cannabis and cocaine, cannabis is probably number one followed very quickly behind by cocaine.”

But the officer pledged: “We will continue to be out there, we will continue to mount checkpoints, we will continue to test people who we believe consumed intoxicants.”

Garda figures for 2023 show that 3,130 people were arrested for drug driving.

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