Ipswich motorist becomes first Suffolk arrest under new drug-driving regulations

Roadside drug test

Roadside drug test - Credit: Archant

A motorist in Ipswich has become the first person in Suffolk to be arrested under the new drug-driving regulations.

The 19-year-old man was stopped in West End Road shortly before 10.25pm last night and provided a positive reading for cannabis. He was taken to Martlesham Police Investigation Centre for questioning and released on bail until 17 April.

Police in Norfolk and Suffolk have been on patrol with drug swab testing equipment, which has been dubbed a “drugalyser” to test drivers thought to be under the influence of drugs.

The new drug testing devices will 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.

It comes as new laws were introduced this week making it easier for police to target drug drivers.

Chief Inspector Chris Spinks, head of the Norfolk and Suffolk Roads Policing Unit, said the new laws would make it easier for officers to tackle drug drivers because there is a prescribed legal limit for substances.

“Having legal limits specified for substances means the process of dealing with offenders and securing prosecutions is less complex than before,” he said.

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“The new laws combined with the use of the roadside drug tests will allow officers to deal with offenders more effectively.

“It is a minority of people who believe that they are fit to drive whilst under the influence of drugs, but they are putting themselves and others at risk.

“In the same respect as alcohol, any amount of drug, prescribed or otherwise can impair your ability to drive and increase your chances of causing a collision.

“It is therefore essential that drivers read the instructions of any prescription medication before getting behind the wheel.”

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 will be set at very low levels for eight illegal drugs such as cannabis and cocaine.

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.

The new legislation provides a medical defence if you are taking medicine in accordance with the advice of a healthcare professional – provided your are not impaired.

A drug drive conviction will result in a criminal record, a minimum 12 month driving ban and a fine of up to £5,000. It could also cost you your job.

Police have been on patrol with drug swab testing equipment, which has been dubbed a “drugalyser”.

Officers have said that a suspect was detained in Ipswich last night on suspicion of driving while under the influence of cannabis.

He has been released on bail to return to Martlesham police investigation centre in six weeks.

New regulations aimed at stopping people driving while on drugs came into force in England and Wales on Monday.

Drivers face prosecution if they exceed limits set for the presence of eight illegal drugs, including cannabis and cocaine, and eight prescription drugs.

Police are now be able to use “drugalyser” devices at the roadside.