There were almost 8,000 arrests last year for drug driving in England and Wales, figures have revealed.
New legislation was brought in covering legal driving limits for 17 illegal and prescription drugs in March last year.
Under the old laws, police had to show driving was impaired by drugs to prosecute. But the changes have made it a specific offence to drive after having certain drugs above prescribed levels.
Those caught face a minimum 12-month driving ban, up to six months in prison, an unlimited fine and a criminal record.
The effect of the changes to the legislation have been felt acutely by one Ipswich man, who is beginning a year-long road ban after getting behind the wheel having earlier smoked cannabis.
A 27 year old man from Ipswich, admitted driving while above the specified limit for the drug.
In addition to his driving ban, magistrates also fined the man £540 and ordered him to pay costs of £85.
The change in the law covered eight illegal drugs including cannabis and cocaine, and nine prescription drugs including Temazepam and morphine.
People are not penalised if they use prescription drugs within recommended amounts, but they must seek doctors’ advice – including if that advice is not to drive while taking certain substances.
As a result of the toughening of the legislation, there was an increase in the numbers charged with drug driving of 144% last year.
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