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Police reveal why drug-drive arrests surpassed drink drivers in Suffolk last year

PUBLISHED: 16:30 08 July 2019 | UPDATED: 08:02 09 July 2019

Drug wipes have helped Suffolk police catch more motorists driving under the influence of substances. Picture: RACHEL EDGE

Drug wipes have helped Suffolk police catch more motorists driving under the influence of substances. Picture: RACHEL EDGE

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Rising demand for drugs in Suffolk and improved roadside testing are behind increased drug drive arrests in the county, police bosses have said.

Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner, Tim Passmore, said it was Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner, Tim Passmore, said it was "deeply disturbing" people were using drugs at the wheel. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Rising demand for drugs in Suffolk and improved roadside testing are behind increased drug-drive arrests in Suffolk, police bosses have said.

Latest data revealed that arrests for drug driving had surpassed drink drive arrests for the first time in Suffolk last year.

The 672 drug driving arrests in 2018/19 represented a 20% increase on the year before, while drink driving had increased by 11.3% to 652 arrests according to data presented to Suffolk police's accountability and performance panel.

The county's police and crime commissioner Tim Passmore said it was "deeply disturbing" that people were making a conscious decision to use drugs before getting behind the wheel.

"I think it's not necessarily just county lines, but county lines come up because of a demand for drugs, and I think society needs a very serious reflection on this," he said.

"Driving under the influence of drink is bad enough but now we've got drugs as well.

"We mustn't forget some of these are prescription drugs, which people aren't aware of. Read the information and realise some prescription drugs are dangerous.

"But it's so irresponsible and selfish - it beggars belief that people do continue to drive under the influence of drugs.

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"We have put a huge amount of money, nearly a couple of hundred thousand pounds, for drug wipes, which cost a lot of money.

"We have a very good hit rate with those that are stopped and tested.

"The message to the public is if you think you are going to get away with drug driving you are not because we are onto you."

For officers, many of the signs of drug driving are the same as drink driving, such as erratic steering or driving too slowly, but the drug wipes have enabled the police to successful test for drug traces.

Simon Megicks, assistant chief constable, said: "Road traffic offences are still a priority for the constabulary.

"This year is the first time our drug drive numbers are in excess of drink drive numbers.

"That's down to a much clearer ability to recognise drug driving using wipes and send them off to the labs."

-In 2015, eight general prescription and eight illicit drugs were added to new regulations in England and Wales.

The limit, per litre of blood, for each is as follows:

Benzoylecgonine (metabolite of cocaine) 50 microgrammes; cocaine 10mcg; delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (cannabis derivitive) 2mcg; ketamine 20mcg; lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) 1mcg; methylamphetamine (crystal meth) 10mcg; methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) 10mcg; 6-monoacetylmorphine (metabolite of heroin) 5mcg; amphetamine 250mcg; clonazepam 50mcg; diazepam 550mcg; flunitrazepam 300mcg; lorazepam 100mcg; methadone 500mcg; morphine 80mcg; oxazepam 300mcg; temazepam 1,000mcg.

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