The Constabulary will conduct its annual summer campaign and this year will be testing those suspected to be driving under the influence of drugs under new legislation.
The new legislation is modelled on drink-driving testing and places legal limits on eight illegal drugs and eight medicinal drugs. Police will now be able to enforce the new laws with roadside saliva-testing kits followed by blood and urine tests at a station. The Department for Transport has set low limits for illegal drugs like heroin and cocaine and higher limits for the eight prescription drugs.
Sergeant Paul Brown, from the Operational Support Unit, said “Any amount of alcohol or drugs can affect a motorist’s ability to drive safely. Our advice to all motorists is that if you’re planning on driving a vehicle do not drink any alcohol or take drugs. Different amounts of alcohol or drugs can have different effects due to a wide range of variables.
“There should be no greater deterrent than the potential fatal consequences of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Those that drive under the influence, not only put their own lives in danger but also that of other road users. As a force we will continue to bring those who are caught driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs to justice.
“Our message is clear, don’t drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs. It is easy to make alternative arrangements. Don’t ruin lives by making a decision to drive whilst under the influence.”
Last year’s summer campaign saw 1,587 breath tests conducted and 66 people subsequently arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, meaning just over four percent of those tested were either over the limit or failed to provide a test.
Of the 66 people who failed or refused a test, 16 of these were following road traffic collisions which was just under a quarter of all tests conducted.
Sergeant Brown added: “Statistics prove that people are still risking their own and other road user’s lives by driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Our aim is to prevent danger to road users and with the assistance from members of the public we can take action more effectively. Prevention is definitely best when it comes reducing the risk to people’s lives that drink and drugs present. If we can stop a driver before they kill or seriously injure someone, then it’s better for all concerned.
“If you suspect someone to be driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs please contact the police, we will treat such calls as an emergency as lives could be at stake.”
Chris Broadbent, of the Cumbria Road Safety Partnership, said “This is a vital campaign which we support every year that aims to stop people from driving whilst under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
“I hope members of the public back this campaign and enjoy this summer’s events responsibly. Please do not risk your own and other road user’s lives by driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.”
Police and Crime Commissioner Richard Rhodes said “It is really important that people use the roads responsibly. There are lots of social occasions over the summer months and we want people to enjoy these but act responsibly, safely and with consideration for others; this ranges from antisocial behaviour to driving whilst under the influence of alcohol or drugs.”
For further information on the new drug driving legislation please visit http://think.direct.gov.uk/drug-driving.html.