Police report spike in ‘drug driving’

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Police in St Helens are warning motorists of the dangers of driving while high after new figures showed a spike arrests for the offence.

The figures date back to a change in the law making it an offence to drive with certain drugs above a specified level.

Seventeen legal and illegal drugs are now covered by the law, including cannabis, cocaine, ecstasy and ketamine.

Since the change in the law, there have been 325 drug drive arrests in Merseyside compared to just 110 in 2014.

Officers say 66 of the drug-drive arrests were in December. Drugs were detected in 98 per cent of the samples submitted to the forensic labs in 2015 and a total of 73 per cent of drivers were prosecuted.

The penalties for drug driving are the same as for drink-driving. If you are convicted you will receive a minimum 12-month driving ban; a criminal record and a hefty fine or up to six months in prison or both.

Sgt Paul Mountford, from Merseyside Police’s Roads Policing Unit, said: “In the same way that drink driving can affect you, driving while under the influence of drugs is extremely dangerous and can affect your driving skills in a number of ways.

“You don’t have to be on illegal drugs to be impaired to drive – prescription or over-the-counter medicines can also impair your ability to drive. If you’re taking medicines, talk to your doctor, pharmacist or healthcare professional before driving.

“Our advice would be - do not drive if you feel drowsy, dizzy, unable to concentrate or make decisions, or if you have blurred or double vision and do not accept a lift from a driver you know has taken drugs.”

Sgt Mountford will also be taking part in an interactive Twitter session tonight (Wednesday) from 6pm to 8pm. Ask a question about drug driving or roads policing by following @MerseyPolice and using the hashtag #AskPaul