More people were arrested for drug related driving offences in Brighton than anywhere else in Sussex in the first year it’s been a criminal offence.
Today marks the first anniversary of Government limits for legal and illegal drugs which motorists can be tested against being approved – and since then, almost 300 people have been arrested – nowhere more so in Sussex than Brighton.
Brighton was also the first place anyone was both arrested and convicted under the new laws. Mark Barnard, 35, of Shanklin Road was pulled over while high on MDMA and cocaine on 2 March.
He pleaded not guilty at Brighton Magistrates Court in May, but changed his plea to guilty in October, and was fined £360, ordered to pay £235 costs and £35 victim surcharge and banned from driving for 12 months.
And Neil Scott-O’Connor became the first to be convicted when he pleaded guilty in May to driving while high on cannabis on Saturday 7 March after his car was stopped in Nuthurst Place, Brighton.
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
Throughout the year, 26 people were arrested for driving a motor vehicle above the new drug limits, many after being tested using a new roadside drug wipe kit.
Eight people were arrested for driving a vehicle while unfit through drugs, one person for being in charge of a vehicle while over the limit, and one person being in charge of a vehicle while unfit through drugs.
Two people were arrested for attempting to drug drive, one person was arrested for aiding and abetting drug driving – a total of 40 offences.
Meanwhile in Hove, seven people were arrested for driving while over the limit, one for driving while unfit through drugs, and one for being in charge of vehicle while unfit through drugs, bringing the city’s total to 48.
Only Crawley came close, with a total of 38 offences.
Sergeant Phil Badman, of the Surrey and Sussex Police Roads Policing Unit, said: “The consequences of drug-driving can be lethal. Substances – both legal and illegal – can seriously impair your ability to drive, which could cause a serious or even a fatal collision.
“But there’s also a knock-on effect – a conviction is likely to increase the cost of your car insurance, you could lose your job and you could have difficulty travelling to other countries. Above all, drug-driving is not a risk worth taking.
“We have a duty and a commitment to keep the roads in Sussex safe, and as such we take a zero tolerance approach to drug-driving. Anyone caught committing the offence will be dealt with accordingly.”
Any individual convicted of drug-driving faces a minimum 12-month disqualification, an unlimited fine, up to six months in prison and a criminal record.
In addition, information about a drug-driving conviction will remain on your licence for 11 years.
The penalty for causing death by dangerous driving under the influence of drugs is up to 14 years in prison.
To find out more about the law, including the limits for each substance, visit www.gov.uk/drug-driving-law.