Driving under the influence of drugs can have devastating consequences and is not a risk worth taking.
This is the message being issued by Surrey and Sussex Roads Policing Unit to motorists on the first anniversary of the new drug-driving law.
On 2 March 2015, the Government approved prescribed limits for a number of legal and illegal drugs for which motorists can be tested against. This makes it a criminal offence to drive if you have certain controlled drugs above a specific limit in your blood.
Since February last year, police have also had a new tool at their disposal to crackdown on drug-drivers. The roadside Drug Wipe testing kit takes a swab from the motorist and can detect cocaine or cannabis use within 10 minutes.
Officers, working in connection with the Sussex Safer Roads Partnership, are now reminding drivers of the dangers associated with drug-driving and the impact of such actions.
Sergeant Phil Badman, of the Surrey and Sussex Police Roads Policing Unit, said, “The consequences of drug-driving can be lethal. Substances - both legal and illegal - can seriously impair your ability to drive, which could cause a serious or even a fatal collision.
“But there’s also a knock-on effect – a conviction is likely to increase the cost of your car insurance, you could lose your job and you could have difficulty travelling to other countries. Above all, drug-driving is not a risk worth taking.
“We have a duty and a commitment to keep the roads in Sussex safe, and as such we take a zero tolerance approach to drug-driving. Anyone caught committing the offence will be dealt with accordingly.”
Between 2 March 2015 and 29 February 2016, officers made a total of 295 drug-driving related arrests in Sussex.
The vast majority of these – 222 – were for driving with a proportion of a specified controlled drug above the specified limit.
One of those arrested was Kellie Keating, who drove her nine-year-old son to school while under the influence of cocaine.
The Alfa Romeo she was driving narrowly avoided colliding with other vehicles, including a police car, on the A23 at Pyecombe.
She was also witnessed by an officer swerving between lanes and careering into a grass bank, causing a tyre to burst, before turning sharply into Pyecombe service station.
A drug wipe was carried out and the 44-year-old, of Kennedy Road in Horsham, tested positive for cocaine.
At Brighton Magistrates’ Court she pleaded guilty to driving with 57mg of benzoylecgonine per litre of blood in her system. The legal limit is 50mg.
She was disqualified from driving for 30 months, and ordered to pay a £150 criminal courts charge, a £110 fine, £85 costs and a £20 victim surcharge.
Under the new law, it is an offence to drive while over the prescribed limit of illegal drugs.
But motorists are also liable to criminal proceedings if they are caught driving while over the prescribed limit of legal drugs.
Any individual convicted of drug-driving faces a minimum 12-month disqualification, an unlimited fine, up to six months in prison and a criminal record.
In addition, information about a drug-driving conviction will remain on your licence for 11 years.
The penalty for causing death by dangerous driving under the influence of drugs is up to 14 years in prison.
To find out more about the law, including the limits for each substance, visit www.gov.uk/drug-driving-law
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