Drug drive arrests increase following introduction of new legislation
Almost 8,000 motorists were arrested for drug driving in England and Wales in the 12 months following the introduction of new legislation, figures obtained by BBC Radio 5 live have revealed.
The statistics, reported by BBC News, come from 35 of the 43 police forces and show that 7,796 people were arrested between March 2015 and April 2016.
In March 2015, new legislation came into effect making it illegal in England and Wales to drive with certain drugs in the body above specified levels. This included eight illegal drugs and eight prescription drugs.
The laws were introduced to make it easier for police, who previously had to show driving was impaired by drugs in order to prosecute, to catch offenders.
Those caught drug-driving face a minimum 12-month driving ban, up to six months in prison and an unlimited fine and a criminal record.
South Yorkshire Police drug driving-related arrests went from 13 in the year the test was introduced to 456 the following year, according to a BBC Yorkshire Freedom of Information (FOI) request.
In the period March 2015 to April 2016, the Metropolitan Police carried out the most arrests (1,636), followed by Greater Manchester Police (573) and the Cheshire force (546).
Chief constable Suzette Davenport, the roads policing lead for the National Police Chiefs' Council, told the BBC: “The drug testing kit and the legislation are immensely helpful and have provided the operational officer with the tools necessary to help catch those who take the risk of drug driving.
"People who previously got away with driving under the influence of controlled drugs are now being detected and prosecuted."