Number of drug-drivers arrested increases by nearly 50 per cent during lockdown

Northumbria Police has condemned the “totally irresponsible” behaviour of drug-drivers after figures released today (July 7) showed a record number of arrests during lockdown.

Jul 7, 2020
By Paul Jacques
Inspector Paul Allen

The force warned they were putting lives at risk following a 48 per cent increase in the number of people arrested for all drug-related driving offences.

Between March and June this year, 304 people were arrested, up from 98 over the same period in 2019.

The figures also included a 300 per cent increase in arrests for the specific offence of driving while above the drug-drive limit – up from 21 to 84.

Inspector Paul Allen of Northumbria Police’s Motor Patrols Department condemned the actions of those getting behind the wheel under the influence.

“Driving while under the influence of drink or drugs is totally irresponsible and puts the lives of innocent road users at risk,” he said.

Insp Allen said the ability to drive is “significantly impaired” and chances of being involved in a collision will “drastically increase”.

He added: “During lockdown we have seen a significant reduction in the number of people who have been using our region’s roads.

“These figures show that people are continuing to get behind the wheel while under the influence and that has been a concern.

“We have not suddenly seen a 50 per cent increase in drug drivers but lockdown has given us an opportunity to carry out targeted patrols to identify those individuals.

“We have continued to prioritise the policing of the road network to ensure those key workers who have needed to drive can do so safely.

“This work will continue and anyone who gets behind the wheel while under the influence should expect to be arrested and put before the courts.”

All Motor Patrols officers at Northumbria Police are trained to use drug wipes and are able to test any driver they suspect of being under the influence.

The force said that combining illegal drugs with alcohol was especially deadly since it has been found that drivers who have consumed both are 23 times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash than sober drivers.

Insp Allen said drug-driving was “completely unacceptable”, adding: “We have witnessed first hand the devastation driving under the influence can have on the families and friends of those killed on the roads.

“It is our officers who have the heartbreaking task of informing the next of kin that their loved one has passed away and that does not get any easier.”

Northumbria Police said it was encouraging anyone who wants to report a drink or drug-driver, or who has dashcam footage of reckless behaviour on the roads, to report it online on the force website.

Sixteen legal and illegal drugs are covered by drug-driving laws, including cannabis, cocaine, ecstasy and ketamine, with the legal limits for all extremely low.

If caught and convicted there are severe penalties, including driving bans, a criminal record, heavy fines and custodial prison sentence.

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