A new law comes into effect next week, aimed at catching those who risk the lives of others whilst driving under the influence of drugs.
The new legislation, being introduced on March 2, 2015, in England and Wales, sets legal limits for how much of a substance – both illegal drugs and prescription medication – motorists can have in their system whilst driving.
Officers from North Wales Police’ Roads Policing Unit will carry a new device that will allow them to carry out a roadside test to see if a motorist has taken cannabis or cocaine.
The ‘DrugWipe’ system will allow officers to determine in less than 10 minutes if a motorist has an illegal substance in their body, by using a swab from the driver’s mouth.
Any drivers who fail the test will be arrested and taken to police custody where a sample of their blood will be taken. The blood will then be sent away to be examined and if illegal levels of a drug are found, that motorist faces being prosecuted for drug driving.
If the driver refuses to give consent, they face being prosecuted for the offence of failing to provide a sample of blood for analysis.
Chief Inspector Darren Wareing from the Roads Policing Unit said: “This new legislation will help make it easier for the police to detect and prosecute drug drivers.
“You don’t have to be on illegal drugs to be unfit to drive – many prescription or over-the-counter medicines can also impair your ability to drive.
“Driving under the influence of drugs not only puts the offender and their passengers at risk but everyone else using the roads as well. In the same way that we take a zero tolerance approach to drink driving, we will also not tolerate drug driving.
He added: “If you are taking your medicine as directed and your driving is not impaired, then you are not breaking the law.
“It will remain an offence to drive while your ability is impaired by drugs and, if in doubt, you should not drive.
“Our officers are out every day looking for drug drivers but we also need the public’s help to catch them and remove them off the roads. If you know, or suspect someone is driving under the influence of drugs please contact us urgently – you could save a life.”
The penalty under the new offence will be a 12-month ban, disqualification, a fine up to £5,000 and up to six months in prison or both.
Further information is available via the Government website (link to www.gov.uk/drug-driving-law) or via Think! (www.think.direct.gov.uk)
Anybody who may have information regarding drug drivers should contact North Wales Police on 101. Alternatively contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.