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Following the launch of Northamptonshire Police’s three-month Matters of Priority campaign, the Force is taking the opportunity to highlight the dangers of getting behind the wheel after taking drugs.
With the first week focusing on drug harm, the Force is reminding road users who may use drugs on a recreational basis, of the potential deadly consequences associated with driving under the influence of an illicit substance.
It is an offence to drive with any controlled drugs above a specified level in your blood. This includes illegal and medical drugs. The limits set for each is different, and for illegal substances the limits set are extremely low.
Officers have the power to carry out roadside saliva swabs, which can detect the presence of cannabis and cocaine, and takes just eight minutes to process. If the test provides a positive result, the person will be arrested and taken into custody for a blood test.
Other substances can also be screened in custody and with drugs staying in the system longer than alcohol, people can test positive days later, increasing the chances of getting caught and prosecuted.
Last year in Northamptonshire, a total of 142 road users were arrested on suspicion of driving while under the influence of a controlled drug, of which 27 were charged and subsequently appeared before the courts.
Of those arrested, 103 road users were taken into custody on suspicion of driving while unfit through drugs. November and December had the most arrests with 12 and 11 respectively, however January, March and September were close behind with 10 each.
Chief Inspector James Willis, who is leading the drug harm week of action, said: “Working alongside our Northamptonshire Safer Roads Alliance partners, our focus continues to be to reduce the number of people who are killed or seriously injured on our roads.
“Driving while under the influence of drugs is both extremely dangerous and reckless. How drugs affect someone depends on various factors, and the risks of getting behind the wheel can be devastating long after the person has taken them.
“However, what is for certain, drugs impair a road users’ ability to think clearly, act and react to situations, and as a result, anyone driving under the influence of drugs are twice as likely to be involved in a collision.
“This can have devastating consequences not only on the person who is supposed to be in control of a moving vehicle but can also change the life of an innocent bystander and their family. How would you feel knowing that your actions had destroyed lives?”
Drivers who cause a death while driving under the influence of drugs faces up to 14 years’ imprisonment. If they’re fortunate not to be involved in a collision, if caught, they risk up to six months in prison, an unlimited fine and a substantial driving ban.
However, The Institute of Advanced Motorists calculate that a drink or drug drive conviction could cost up to £70,000 because of fines, solicitors fees, increase in the cost of car insurance and losing a job.
To report suspected drink or drug driving in confidence, call the Drivewatch Hotline on 0800 174615 or dial 101. In an emergency, call 999.
For more information on legal and illegal drugs, and drug driving laws, visit www.gov.uk/drug-driving-law