The warning comes as the annual drug and drink driving enforcement campaign gets underway today, 1st December, with roadside drug tests and breathalysers being carried out daily by trained officers across Lancashire.
Between 21 November 2022 and the New Year, officers stopped more than 3,000 drivers at checkpoints, and found 343 unfit to be behind the wheel, through either drink or drugs.
Nationally, Ministry of Justice (MoJ) statistics show convictions for driving a motor vehicle under the influence of drink or drugs overall, increased from 41,457 in 2014 to 58,117 in 2022 – a rise of 40%.
1 in 20 fatal crashes are due to drug driving in the UK. Driving under the influence of cannabis doubles the risk of a fatal or serious collision and driving under the influence of cocaine increases the risk by ten times. (Brake)
Lancashire Constabulary arrested 1,309 people for drug related driving alone last year. Drug driving is a significant and growing issue and one that is close to overtaking drink driving on Lancashire’s roads.
In a bid to educate drivers about the dangers of drug driving, a multi media campaign has been launched in Lancashire across billboards, beer mats, posters, radio ads and social media to warn about the effects of drug driving and to signpost people for help through Talk to Frank. Lancashire County Council has committed £3000 towards the campaign, which also urges people to contact Crimestoppers if they suspect anyone is driving impaired.
Throughout December and until the New Year, officers will be out stopping drivers at checkpoints and targeting people where intelligence suggests they may be drug or drink-driving.
Police and Crime Commissioner for Lancashire Andrew Snowden said: “Those who recklessly drive under the influence of drugs, whether illicit or prescribed, taken without heading the cautions in the guidelines, put their loved ones and other road users at avoidable risk and need to be aware officers will be out across Lancashire, looking for them. The same applies to alcohol.
“Targeting dangerous drivers is a priority in my Fighting Crime Plan and it’s important that we do everything we can to keep Lancashire road users safe, through both education and enforcement activity to prevent and deter drug and drink driving from happening in our county.
“This year I’m funding this campaign to educate people about the effects of drug driving and to warn people that even if you do not look or feel impacted you still could have drugs in your system that will show up on a roadside test.
“We’re also encouraging residents to report drug driving and increase the amount of drug driving intelligence going to Crimestoppers and Lancashire Police so that officers can proactively target those who put others at risk.”
The campaign raises awareness of enforcement activity in targeting drug drivers to build public confidence and warn drug drivers they’re more likely than ever before to get caught. It also signposts to drug support and treatment services.
Assistant Chief Constable Peter Lawson, said: “We know that the majority of drivers follow the law and that it is only a small minority who choose to drink or drug-drive.
“However to those people we say this: driving while under the influence is both selfish and utterly reckless and the legal limit is there for a reason. No matter how well you believe you can drive under the influence, you are putting yourself and others in danger of serious harm or death and it is never, ever worth it.
“Over the next month we will be out and about on the roads and will be stopping motorists at checkpoints right across the county doing alcohol and drug screening tests. We will not hesitate to prosecute anybody who is found to be over the legal limit for alcohol or drugs.
“To those who do follow the law, we have a request: if you know anyone who drink or drug-drives, then please tell us and we will act on it. You may save a life or prevent someone being seriously injured.
“The message is simple: say no to drink or drug-driving so everybody can stay safe this Christmas.”
The pan Lancashire Drug and Alcohol Alliance, which brings together Lancashire’s three Combating Drugs Partnerships – Lancashire County Council, Blackburn with Darwen Council and Blackpool Council – working together with a range of key partners to collaboratively tackle substance misuse across Lancashire.
County Councillor Michael Green, cabinet member for Health and Wellbeing at Lancashire County Council, said: “A public health approach and partnership working is needed to tackle the main root causes of alcohol and drug misuse.
“This is why Lancashire County Council’s Public Health service has contributed £3000 towards this new drug-drive campaign, and why the partnership has come together to support it, so that we can make the streets of Lancashire safer for all local road users.
“The consequences of driving under the influence of drink or drugs can be devastating, so I urge residents to be responsible over the Christmas period and Talk to Frank if you need help.”
Drug and drink driving is part of the fatal five, which includes speeding, mobile phone use, seat belts and distractions.
Drivers risk up to six months’ imprisonment, an unlimited fine and a substantial driving ban if they are caught driving while above the legal limit. Anyone who causes a death while drink or drug driving faces up to 14 years’ imprisonment.
More information about the campaign can be found at lancashire.police.uk
Information received about drink and drug driving across the UK into Crimestoppers has increased by 25% by the end of the year (2023).
If you do suspect somebody is drink or drug driving, please tell police on 101 or contact us online at doitonline.lancashire.police.uk. Alternatively, you can tell Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or at crimestoppers-uk.org.
If you want help to get more control of your substance use, or to become drug and/or alcohol free, there are specialist treatment services available across the county, visit Talk to Frank.