Police are taking action on drug-driving this Christmas, as officers say that many drivers think they are likely to get away with it.
This week, Sussex Police launched a safety campaign video showing the arrest of a 29-year-old who was convicted of driving under the influence of ketamine.
He was barely able to stand after being stopped by police in December last year, and was given a four-month driving ban and a fine.
Sussex Police Chief Inspector Phil Nicholas said the dangers of drink-driving have become “ingrained”, but now drivers risk getting behind the wheel having taken drugs.
“They may think they won’t get caught, or they may think that they are less impaired as a result of taking drugs.
“We want to reinforce that, if someone takes drink or drugs and then drives while impaired, they will be arrested and we will take blood in cases where there is no evidence of alcohol”, he commented.
Currently police officers do not have roadside drug-testing kits, but it has been announced that eleven forces will introduce ‘drugalyser’ tests for cannabis.
Drug-driving may be a factor in up to 200 deaths a year in Britain.
Changes to the law making drug-driving an offence in its own right are due to come into force in March next year.
Fit to drive
As a result, police will only have to show that a driver had taken drugs rather than that they were impaired by them.
Ed Morrow, campaigns officer for road safety charity Brake, said that every time someone considers driving they need to ensure they are “fit to drive”.
“There’s no room for impairment, be it by drink, drugs, prescription medication or anything else.
“It is important that we don’t overlook the problem of drug driving, which has a devastating effect on many families.
“That’s why Brake has strongly welcomed Government action in the form of the new law against driving while under the influence of drugs”, he added.
According to a poll commissioned by Brake and insurance company Direct Line, up to a million people may have driven their cars under the influence of illegal drugs in the past year.
Released in August, the survey found that three in every 100 drivers admit to drug-driving.