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27 Dec 2023

Drug and drink driving - a problem on the rise

The run up to Christmas and New Year periods see an increase in police campaigns to address drug and drink driving. However, the latest Ministry of Justice (MoJ) statistics show a big increase in drug and drink driving across the UK.

Drug driving UK

The scale of the drug and drink drive problem

MoJ statistics show convictions for driving under the influence of drink or drugs, increased from 41,457 in 2014 to 58,117 in 2022. This represents a rise of 40%. in addition, drug driving is close to overtaking drink driving, becoming a major cause for concern for the police and local communities across the UK.

To illustrate the growing issue, 1 in 20 fatal crashes are due to drug driving in the UK. Driving under the influence of cannabis doubles the risk of a fatal or serious collision. While driving under the influence of cocaine increases the risk by ten times.

The consequences of drug and drink driving destroys lives. There are many heartbreaking stories of fatal crashes caused by drivers under the influence, of which many involve children. One such story tragically shows how lives are destroyed involving 10-year-old Lily Lockwood. Lily was killed by a drug driver on her way to buy sweets from the shop. Incredibly, after Lily's death, the driver was released on bail, but was then caught drink-driving twice before his trial began.

What is being done about the drug and drink drive problem?

Drug and drink driving is part of the fatal five, which includes speeding, mobile phone use, seat belts and distractions.

The police state that Individuals who drive under the influence of drugs, whether illicit or prescribed, taken without heading the cautions in the guidelines, put their loved ones and other road users at avoidable risk. As has been the case with alcohol, police have the powers to stop and test drivers suspected of being under the influence of drugs. However, through both education and enforcement activity, the police aim to prevent and deter drug and drink driving from happening in the first place.

Education includes informing people about the effects of drug driving. For example, even if people do not look or feel impacted, they could still have drugs in their system that will show up on a roadside test. Also, the police are encouraging local communities to report drug driving and increase the amount of drug driving intelligence going to Crimestoppers and Police authorities so that officers can proactively target those who put others at risk. Information received about drink and drug driving across the UK into Crimestoppers has increased by 25% by the end of the year (2023).

In addition to police enforcement and education, local health authorities believe a public health approach and partnership working is needed to tackle the main root causes of alcohol and drug misuse.

Drivers risk up to six months’ imprisonment, an unlimited fine and a substantial driving ban if they are caught driving while above the legal limit. Anyone who causes a death while drink or drug driving faces up to 14 years’ imprisonment.

If you want help to get more control of your substance use, or to become drug and/or alcohol free, there are specialist treatment services available across the county, visit Talk to Frank.