Three people have been arrested in South Yorkshire for driving with at least 15 times the legal limit for cocaine in their system – while the number failing roadside drug tests has increased.
The latest figures show 56 per cent of drivers tested at the roadside in the region since new legislation was introduced in March were over the legal drug driving limit – up from 51 per cent in May.
Although possession and supply of drugs is illegal, it is not illegal to have drugs in your system.
South Yorkshire Police Chief Constable David Crompton said of the latest figures: “It’s really disappointing because, let’s be honest, you’d like to see those figures come down.
“The reality is that we have people using drugs in society who feel it’s acceptable to then get behind the wheel. I would rather we get out there and catch them than just imagine that the problem doesn’t exist.”
Since March, officers have carried out 328 roadside tests using a £12 kit which can detect cocaine or cannabis within eight minutes. It has resulted in 184 arrests.
New laws mean drug driving now carries the same penalties as drink driving –a minimum 12-month ban, a criminal record, an unlimited fine and up to six months in prison. Mr Crompton said the force is cracking down on drug driving due to the dangers it poses, particularly on young men aged 17 to 24 who don’t yet see it as socially unacceptable to take drugs and drive.
He said: “It’s now seen as not socially acceptable to drink and drive. But I don’t think we are in the same place as far as drugs are concerned. We have had more than one person test positive for cannabis, cocaine and alcohol. All three, and they are driving around on the road.
“And we have three examples where people’s levels of cocaine in the body is more than 15 times what would get your prosecuted.
“If you have taken cannabis or cocaine, then your ability to judge what’s going on around you is impaired. You are a danger to yourself and everybody on the road.
“If you take drugs, your consequences are likely to be even more severe than if you tested positive for alcohol. If you have a job, you’ll probably lose it, you’ll have to tell your insurer and it will impair your ability to get a job.”