Drug driving is now more prevalent than drink driving according to a National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) report.

Following Operation Limit, a nationwide crackdown on drink and drug driving which saw all 43 UK police forces increase efforts to catch drink and drug drivers from November to January, NPCC has published a report which states that ‘drug driving is now more prevalent than drink driving’.

The largest ever coordinated campaign of its kind targeted those who engage in high-harm behaviour, specifically driving a vehicle whilst under the influence of drink and or drugs with the intention of reducing serious injury and death and to disrupt criminal activity on the road network.

The crackdown saw an 18 per cent rise in arrests for drink and drug driving with 6,130 drivers caught compared with 5,186 during the same period in 2021.

The report shows that on average, 80 motorists on drugs were caught every day during the operation. However, many will never face charges and the report explains why.

Currently, blood samples must be taken by a healthcare practitioner. This creates unnecessary delays and is an inefficient use of both hospital and police resources.

While many police stations have healthcare professionals in attendance, this is by no means common practice and many officers, as the report suggests, say that the process presents a significant challenge, especially on busy weekend evenings.

Another significant problem is the current timescales for laboratory tests. The results, which are essential to prosecute offenders, generally take at least four to five months to process.

It is not uncommon that backlogs can lead to the statutory time limit (generally six months in Magistrate’s Courts) being missed, allowing offenders to walk free without penalty.

Ean Lewin, Managing Director of Cold Chain Federation member D.tec International, the UK’s sole distributor of DrugWipe, the global leader for police roadside driver drug screening, used by all 43 police forces in England, Wales and Scotland as well as hundreds of corporate clients said; “This report shows that by setting up a nationally coordinated operation, NPCC are taking drink and drug driving seriously.

With limited funding and resource, police forces and officers across the UK are doing the best they can. However, we cannot escape the need for more specialist roads police and the desperate requirement for a better system to prosecute drug drivers.

Saliva is perfectly capable of prosecuting cannabis and cocaine and is used by every other country in the world that screens for drug drivers – the UK must adopt the same approach. By doing so, we can reduce costs and speed up the process to remove drug drivers from our roads, as quickly as drink drivers which typically takes no more than 2 weeks”.

Drug driving has been the subject of intense media attention this week increasing pressure on the government to tackle the problem – one which has overtaken the more known and socially unacceptable offense of drink driving.

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