DRUG driving is on the rise in Warwickshire say police.
There were 21 road accidents caused by drug driving in the county in 2019, two of which were fatal – more than double the amount recorded in the previous year.
The number of arrests for drug driving in Warwickshire is also on the increase. Between April and September 2020, 68 drivers were arrested for drug driving compared to the same period in 2019 when there were 59 arrests.
Nationally the figures are even more stark, showing an upward trend in drug driving across all age groups but particularly the under 25 and 30s age groups in men and women.
Inspector Jem Mountford said: “Taking drugs is extremely dangerous and will impair your driving skills, as drug drivers can suffer from slower reaction times, erratic and aggressive behaviour, an inability to concentrate properly, nausea, hallucinations, panic attacks, paranoia, tremors or ‘the shakes’, dizziness and fatigue.
“This will significantly increase your chances of being involved in a collision, potentially injuring yourself and other innocent road users. If you are a passenger, think of your own safety and do not get into a car with any driver you think has been taking drugs.
“We will be actively looking for drivers we suspect may be behind the wheel whilst under the influence of drugs. These drivers or riders will be stopped and a roadside swab test conducted.”
It can take days and weeks for drugs to exit the system completely, so even occasional users may test positive and be guilty of driving under the influence of drugs.
Those found to be driving under the influence of drugs could face a minimum one year driving ban, a fine which can be unlimited, and even up to six months in prison.
They will have a criminal record on their driver’s licence record for 11 years, which can affect job opportunities, car insurance costs and travel.
Offenders found guilty of death by dangerous driving under the influence of drugs could be looking at a prison sentence up to 14 years.
Officers who stop a drug driver may also be disrupting other crimes. Research by Safer Essex Road Partnership has found links between drug drivers and other offences – from not wearing a seatbelt and speeding to violent crime and drug offences.
The effects of drug driving are far reaching as discovered in a study of over 500 UK employees who drive for work. One in five drove immediately after taking illegal drugs and almost a third have driven feeling drowsy after taking medicines or sleep remedies.
Warwickshire Police will be testing drivers for a range of drugs including those prescribed which may be potentially illegal for driving. This includes some painkillers and antidepressants that ‘may cause drowsiness’.
Both services receive funding from the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner.