First convictions using new drug-driving laws

Posted on June 10th, 2015 by James Luckhurst

Screen Shot 2015-05-29 at 07.58.53A Brighton teenager is one of the first people in Britain to be convicted under new drug-driving laws as it emerged there could be an epidemic of substance use behind the wheel. The driver was arrested after police officers stopped his car in Brighton and they could smell cannabis inside the car.

The 19-year-old was found with nine grams of the drug just after midnight in March. He then tested positive for cannabis by officers using new police equipment called DrugWipe – introduced just six days before. The screening technique – nicknamed the drugalyser – was launched on 2 March this year, allowing officers to test drivers for cannabis and cocaine at the roadside using saliva samples, in a similar method to breathalysing for alcohol. Sussex Police have so far made 61 arrests using the new process.

This was the first person in Sussex to be convicted under the new laws and one of a handful so far across the country. He joins a van driver from Liverpool who was also convicted for being behind the wheel while under the influence of cannabis.  A blood test confirmed he had 2.1 microgrammes of Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol per litre of his blood – above the new driving limit of two microgrammes per litre of the compound and he pleaded guilty to driving while having a controlled drug in his system and possession of cannabis when he appeared at Hastings Magistrates’ Court.

He was banned from driving for 12 months, fined £110 and ordered to pay £50 costs and a £20 victim surcharge. He was also made the subject of a 12-month conditional discharge.

The news comes as figures suggested the test revealed a hidden epidemic of drug-driving across Britain, with some police forces recording positive results for as many as 56% of suspects who are pulled over.

Check out GEM’s new video on drugs, driving and the law