Police conduct 225 roadside drug tests during drug driving campaign

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Suffolk and Norfolk Police have conducted 225 roadside drug tests on drivers thought to be under the influence, during the Department for Transport THINK! campaign.

During March 1 to 31, the Roads Policing and Firearms Operation Units carried out 80 positive tests, 144 negative tests and one individual refused to give a sample.

The kits were as a result of new laws introduced on March 2 2015, making it easier for police to target drug drivers.

The drug testing devices allow officers to carry out roadside tests on drivers suspected of being under the influence of cannabis or cocaine and work by testing a saliva swab.

The legislation made it illegal to drive with certain drugs above a certain level in the blood, even if the motorist is not unfit to drive.

The Department for Transport estimates that drug impaired driving casualties resulted in 141 deaths and 651 serious injuries in 2014.

Statistics show that men aged 17-34 are disproportionately represented in drug drive accidents and cannabis is the most common drug detected in such incidents.

Chief Inspector Kristin Barnard, head of the Norfolk and Suffolk Roads Policing Unit, said: “The message is clear and simple - police are using the roadside kits which means that if you drug drive you’re more likely to be caught and convicted.

“A drug drive conviction will have a serious effect on your life including a criminal record, a minimum 12 month driving ban and a heavy fine. You could also face losing your job and lose your social life.

“I hope campaigns like this increase awareness of the fact that drug driving is not acceptable and you will be held accountable for your actions.”

Antonia Litten, Eastern regional manager for Crimestoppers, said: “Many people may be reluctant to go to the police, even though they know someone is a regular drug driver, but they should feel they can speak up and give vital information to someone. It could save someone’s life.

“They can do this completely anonymously through the Crimestoppers website www.crimestoppers-uk.org or by calling 0800 555 111.

“We never ask for your name and no personal details are taken, calls are not recorded. Calls and information given online cannot be traced and you will not have to go to court or give a statement to the police.”

Some prescribed drugs are also included as certain medicines affect your ability to drive.

Eight medicines which are sometimes abused are also included in the new legislation with limits set high to reflect their use as medicines.

The medicines are Morphine, Diazepam, Clonazepam, Flunitrazepam, Lorazepam, Oxazepam, Tempazepam and Methadone.

Previously, the offence of driving whilst unfit through drugs would be used to prosecute drivers and the new laws are in addition to this existing offence.

Limits are set at very low levels for eight illegal drugs such as cannabis and cocaine.