Half of all South Yorkshire motorists tested found with drugs in their systems

Drug driving figures have been released
Drug driving figures have been released

Over half of all motorists tested for drugs by South Yorkshire Police over the last six months had cocaine or cannabis in their systems, new figures reveal.

Since March officers have carried out 328 roadside tests, which have resulted in 184 arrests.

The tests have been carried out following the introduction of new laws which make drug driving carry the same penalties as drink driving.

Road Policing Chief Inspector Glen Suttenwood said: “We developed a strategic and tactical plan to utilise the roadside kits effectively, and in the last six months we have conducted 328 roadside tests, which have resulted in 184 arrests.

“This equates to 56% of drivers tested having drugs in their system, which is quite concerning and we want people to realise they are potentially risking their life, as well as others, if they get behind the wheel of a car under the influence of drugs.

South Yorkshire Police Chief Constable David Crompton said: “Almost 50 years ago the drink drive law was introduced and drivers had to learn, understand and adhere to the law to keep themselves, as well as others, safe on the roads

“This is the aim with our campaign. We want drivers to understand the implications of driving under the influence of drugs and to raise awareness with drivers that drug driving now carries exactly the same penalties and consequences of drink driving - banned for a minimum of a year, a criminal record, a fine and potentially up to six months in prison.

“We want to ensure people abide by the new law to make the roads in South Yorkshire safer.”

Roadside drugs kits are used by officers if they suspect a driver may have drugs in their system.

The kits can detect cocaine and cannabis, resulting in drivers being arrested and taken into custody where a blood sample is taken and sent away to the laboratory to determine the amount of the drug present.

Joanne Wehrle, of the South Yorkshire Safer Roads Partnership, said: “Driving under the influence of drugs is extremely dangerous and can affect driving skills in a number of ways; your reaction time may be slower, your vision can be distorted and your concentration may lapse.

“The Safer Roads Partnership is trying to educate people that driving when you are unfit to do so because of any type of drug in your system puts you, your passengers and other road users at greater risk. If you are taking prescription or over-the-counter medicines and you are not sure if you should drive, talk to your doctor, pharmacist or healthcare professional.

“As part of the change in legislation, all our young driver safety interventions which are delivered in schools and colleges now include information about the changes and the dangers of driving while under the influence.

“We are determined to make South Yorkshire roads safer and protect drivers in our county from the irresponsible and thoughtless actions of others.”