Northumbria Police will be out in force on our roads this month as they look to support a national crackdown on drug drivers.
The force’s Op Dragoon team will be targeting motorists across the region who are flouting the drug drive laws introduced one year today (March 2). The new laws set a legal limit to the amount of certain drugs acceptable in the blood stream which made it easier for police to charge suspected offenders.
Armed with the new legislation our motor patrols, officers arrested a number of drug drivers as part of our Christmas campaign.
Now, the Op Dragoon team will utilise specialist drug testing kits as they lead a month-long crackdown on those who get behind the wheel while under the influence of drugs.
Motor Patrols Chief Inspector John Heckels, who is also lead of the Op Dragoon team, said: “We are fully supportive of the Think! Drug Driving campaign which is launched nationwide today.
“Our Op Dragoon team has already been recognised nationally for the good work they have been doing in targeting dangerous drivers across the region and putting them before the courts.
“During the Christmas campaign we continued that theme and saw a number of convictions for drug drivers as a result of evidence gathered during our roadside drug tests.
“We are once again armed with specialist drug testing kits that allow us to swab suspects at the scene and determine whether or not they have taken any of the substances outlined in the new legislation.
“People think they can get away with this type of crime but that is simply not true. You are putting lives at risk and we will do everything in our power to remove you from our roads if we find you to be driving under the influence of drugs.”
During the Christmas 2015 drink and drug drive campaign, 1,888 drug screening tests were carried out in just one month across England and Wales, and nearly 50 per cent were positive showing how well the police have been in targeting suspected offenders.
The drug drive law changes in England and Wales have made it illegal to drive with 17 controlled drugs above a specified limit in the blood.
Motorists who get behind the wheel after taking illegal drugs face a criminal record, loss of their licence for at least a year and an unlimited fine. It remains an offence to drive while impaired, by any drug at any amount.
Drugs that can be tested for at the roadside are cannabis and cocaine, while the evidential laboratory test can identify all the drugs covered by the law; including ecstasy, LSD, ketamine and heroin.
This campaign, which is led by Think!, is particularly targeting young males aged between 17 and 34 after they were identified as the most likely to break these new laws.
Andrew Jones MP, the Road Safety Minister, said: “Thanks to our tougher law, police are catching and convicting more dangerous drivers.
“The government will continue to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with police as they work tirelessly to protect the public while recognising enforcement alone is not the answer.
“We need to educate and influence behaviour change which is why we are pushing on with our THINK! campaign, which has helped change attitudes towards drink-driving and ultimately save lives.”