Merseyside Police is pleased to announce that the majority of motorists in Merseyside drove responsibly over the Christmas period.
During the Christmas drink and drug driving campaign that ran from 1 December until 31 December 2015, officers carried out a total of 7,925 breath tests and arrested 224 people for drink or drug driving-related offences.
It is the first Christmas drink and drug drive campaign since legislation was introduced in March 2015 to make it easier for police to tackle drug drivers.
The law made it illegal to drive with certain drugs above specified blood levels in the body whether driving is impaired or not. These limits are set at very low levels for eight illegal drugs, including cannabis and cocaine, and eight medicines that have been set at a higher limit.
Merseyside Police have been using roadside testing kits to trace drugs in drivers. If the test result is positive, a blood or urine sample is taken, with no need to call a doctor to confirm the presence of a condition due to drugs.
Sergeant Paul Mountford, from the Roads Policing Unit said: “I am really encouraged to see that 98% per cent of the people we tested were driving responsibly. However, it is disappointing that we have seen a slight increase in motorists drug driving or over the drink drive limit. While they represent a small minority of drivers, I cannot stress enough the danger that these people present, not just to themselves, but to other road users too.
“We are committed to tackling drink and drug driving throughout the year, not just during the Christmas period. Any driver involved in a road traffic collision, or who commits a traffic offence, can expect to be breathalysed at any time in the year, and may be required to perform an impairment test.”
“During the month-long campaign, 66 people were arrested on drug driving offences. This was largely the result of the new drug driving legislation and shows a significant increase compared to last year when there were only eight arrests. A total of 158 people were arrested for drink driving – a decrease on last year when 207 were arrested.”
Sgt Mountford added: “Again, it’s encouraging that people have listened to our messages over the Christmas period. However, the overall figures for 2015 do indicate an increase in drug driving. We made 325 arrests in 2015, compared to 110 arrests in 2014. Drugs were found in 98% of the specimens that were submitted to the forensic labs (between March – November 2015) and 73% of those cases resulted in drivers being prosecuted.
“The current drug driving legislation makes the process of prosecuting drug drivers much simpler. Our message to those drivers would be don’t risk it. The consequences of being caught can be long-lasting and life-changing. We will remain vigilant throughout 2016 to detect those drivers who present a risk to others.”
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