Cops' drive to beat drug drivers

Drug, as well as drink, drivers continue to be targeted by South Yorkshire Police.

Monday, 8th August 2016, 3:35 pm
Updated Tuesday, 9th August 2016, 9:24 am
Drug Wipe's latest reading to catch culprit

Sheffield East Local Policing Team are among those to implement Drug Wipe tell tale kit (pictured) to catch latest culprit.

March saw the Force steer into second year of tackling drug driving. Combating life-endangering crime remains officers' driving ambition.

Said a spokesman: "If you make the reckless decision to get behind the wheel of a car while under the influence of an illegal drug, being ‘high’ could leave you at an all-time ‘low’ - a reality over 300 drivers in South Yorkshire may have to face following their arrests over the last year".

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Less than 18 months after additional legislation was introduced nationwide, South Yorkshire Police are continue to drive home the drug driving dangers message with campaigns funded by South Yorkshire Safer Roads Partnership.

Chief Inspector Glen Suttenwood, Head of Roads Policing for South Yorkshire and Humberside, said at the time: “In the last year since the new law came into effect, officers have conducted 525 roadside drug tests on drivers in South Yorkshire, with 57% producing positive results for cannabis or cocaine, or in 22 of the cases, both illegal drugs.

“Our aim with the campaign is for drivers to understand the implications of driving under the influence of drugs and to raise awareness that drug driving now carries exactly the same penalties and consequences of drink-driving: banned for a minimum of a year, a criminal record, a fine and potentially up to six months in prison.”

“We also want to raise awareness of the dangers, and the campaign forms part of ‘Operation Illuminate’, which launched last month in both South Yorkshire and Humberside, with the main aim of reducing fatal and serious injury road traffic collisions on the roads through education and partnership intervention work, as well as through enforcement across both counties.”

Since March 2015 it is now an offence under Section 5A RTA 1988 to drive while over the prescribed drug limit as with drink driving.

Roadside drugs kits are used by officers if they suspect a driver may have drugs in their system, alongside field impairment tests that have always been used when a driver is suspected of being under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Kits highlight within minutes if a driver has either class A drug cocaine or class B drug cannabis in their system, or both, resulting in the driver being arrested and taken into custody where a blood sample is taken and sent away to the lab to determine the actual amounts of the drug present.

Ch Insp Suttenwood added: “Almost 50 years ago, the drink drive law was introduced and drivers had to learn, understand and adhere to the law to keep themselves, as well as others, safe on the roads,

“We must maintain our approach in raising awareness of the drug drive law, to continue in our attempt to make South Yorkshire’s roads safer and for drivers to abide by the law.

“If you know or suspect someone who may drive while under the influence of drugs, I would strongly urge you to please report them. It’s not just their own lives they are jeopardising, they are a huge risk and a danger to all other road users and we will not tolerate the inconsiderate and selfish actions of drivers who choose to break the law.”

The campaign will run until the end of March, in line with a national campaign run by Think! for the Department for Transport, and is aimed specifically at male drivers aged between 17 to 30-years-old, as they are the group that predominantly return the highest number of positive drug tests at the roadside.

A range of advertising materials will be utilised to highlight the message, which includes cinema adverts, petrol pump advertising, social media adverts and at football games across the county.

Providing campaign funding, South Yorkshire Safer Roads Partnership Education Manager Joanne Werhle said: “Driving under the influence of drugs is extremely dangerous and can affect driving skills in a number of ways; your reaction time may be slower, your vision can be distorted and your concentration may lapse.

“At Safer Roads we are trying to educate people that driving in any of these conditions is a bad idea, not just for them but for their passengers and other road users.

“Over the last year we have been conducting a number of sessions in schools and colleges, to educate young people of the changes and the dangers of driving while under the influence.

“We are determined to make our roads in South Yorkshire safer and protect drivers in our county from irresponsible and thoughtless actions of others.”