Drug drivers banned for 4,599 months and fined almost £60k in last year
- Credit: Archant
Almost £60,000 of fines were handed out to drug-drivers across Suffolk in the last year – as figures revealed almost half of those tested at the roadside gave positive saliva samples.
The rate of motorists successfully prosecuted following arrest on suspicion of driving with banned levels of drugs or medicine in their system was deemed “outstanding” by Suffolk’s police and crime commissioner (PCC).
Statistics for the year ending September 2018 showed 73.25% of 680 arrests made following failed roadside tests led to a charge or postal court summons.
New drug drive laws came into force from March 2015 – setting limits for eight drugs associated with illegal use, such as cannabis and cocaine, along with eight common legally prescribed drugs.
Under legislation, officers use DrugWipe detector kits to check for the presence of illegal drugs in saliva – before further blood tests are carried out at a police station.
Since last October, 1,500 kits have been issued throughout the force – largely funded by an extra £120,000 from the Suffolk RoadSafe board at the end of 2017.
Together with colleagues in Norfolk, Suffolk police used the third most drug wipe tests of any forces in the country – with 45% of tested drivers providing positive samples at the roadside.
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Those brought before the court received a total of £58,826 in fines, 4,599 months in road bans, 172 weeks of imprisonment and 179 days in community orders with 2,562 hours of unpaid work.
Assistant Chief Constable Simon Megicks said: “The arrest to prosecution rate is about three quarters. It’s not quite an absolute liability offence (one not requiring proof of knowledge or fault on the part of defendant) but the charge rate is pretty high.
“If we added the numbers being processed at any one time (136 released under investigation), the rate would be even higher.
“I’m satisfied that we’re effective in taking drug-drivers off the road but we have to keep up the preventative message.
“It’s key that we still receive support from the PCC and others in order to afford the drug wipes.”
Suffolk PCC Tim Passmore said: “People should be aware that if they’re stupid enough to take drugs and drive, they’re going to punished.
“A lot has been done to take a serious approach to drug-driving and these figures are outstanding.
“Roads policing officers are pleased to have this capability.”