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Police in North Wales have made 159 drug driving arrests in the last year.
Officers say more people than ever have been caught driving under the influence of drugs in the region, since new laws came into force on 2nd March 2015. There were 35 arrests during the annual Christmas and New Year crackdown, up from just six in 2014.
The legislation puts sixteen illegal and prescription drugs at very low levels, including cocaine, methadone and morphine. In some cases, motorists weren’t aware of the effects of such drugs as cannabis, which can affect regular users for up to a month or even longer.
Roadside tests are carried out using a swab system called ‘DrugWipe to determine within ten minutes if a driver has an illegal substance in their blood – levels above the limit could lead to up to six months in jail, fines of up to £5,000 or a driving ban.
Acting Sergeant Trystan Bevan, from the Roads Policing Unit in St Asaph, said: ”You don’t have to be on illegal drugs to be unfit to drive – many prescription or over-the-counter medicines can also impair your ability to drive…It’s impossible to know for sure how a combination of drugs will affect any one person as everyone reacts differently. Our message is simple, if people choose to break the law and drive under the influence of drugs we are waiting to catch them.”
Locally, the first arrest came just a fortnight after the drug driving laws came into force, when a 19 year-old man from Denbigh tested positive.
A nationwide ‘Think!’ campaign is being launched to mark the first anniversary of the legislation.