March 2nd marked the first anniversary of new drug driving laws coming into force and unsurprisingly this has led to large numbers of motorists being arrested over the last 12 months.

The Department for Transport (DfT) says initial figures show that drug driving arrests have increased by up to 800% in a year in some parts of the country.

According to Cheshire police, once suspects are charged then 98% have been convicted under the new offence, compared to 80% under previous rules. The second police force to have released their figures is Humberside. Despite the large number of patrol vehicles being issued with roadside test kits, the figures for this area in the last 12 months are 70 arrests following around 100 stops where testing was carried out. This is hailed by the force as a great achievement but it seems quite low in comparison to the figures released by Cheshire Constabulary. We await further results to see if there is consistency across police forces in using these new powers.

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.

During last Christmas’ drink and drug drive campaign, 1,888 drug screening tests were carried out in one month across England and Wales, and nearly 50% were positive, which the DfT says shows how well the police have been in targeting suspected offenders.

But it also shows just how widespread the problem is and that we are only scratching the surface.

If you’re convicted of drug driving you’ll get a minimum one-year driving ban, and unlimited fine and up to six months in prison, along with a criminal record.

Your licence will show you’ve been convicted of drug driving and will last for 11 years.

The penalty for causing death by dangerous driving under the influence of drugs is a prison sentence of up to 14 years.

If you require any advice in relation to drug driving please call our specialist motoring solicitors for advice on 0800 046 3066