Almost 200 illegal drivers have been removed from Cheshire’s roads as a result of the new drug drive laws.

Since the drug drive laws were introduced a year ago Cheshire Police has arrested more than 540 people on suspicion of drug driving.

Almost 200 drivers have been prosecuted to date; with all of the offenders receiving a minimum 12 month driving ban.

The figures mean Cheshire has one of the highest arrests rates in the UK, with young men between the ages of 21 and 30 making up the majority of the offenders.

Assistant Chief Constable Mark Roberts said: “The introduction of the drug drive laws has proved instrumental in the fight against drug driving.

“We have the highest arrest rate for drug driving in the whole of the North West, and one of the highest in the UK, so offenders are more likely to be caught in Cheshire than are anywhere else in the region.

Assistant Chief Constable Mark Roberts

“Although it is disappointing to see that so many people believe it is acceptable to drive under the influence of illegal drugs, I’m pleased to see offenders are being brought to justice as a result of the new laws.”

Introduced in March 2015, the drug driving law means officers no longer have to prove whether or not a driver is fit to drive, but can instead prosecute anyone found in charge of a motor vehicle with a concentration of an illegal drug over the specified limit in their body.

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In addition to the new regulations, all roads policing officers are now equipped with roadside drugs wipes which can determine whether or not a driver has cannabis or cocaine in their system. Officers also have access to drugs testing machines which are able to test a number of drugs, including cannabis and cocaine.

As well as the new devices, officers also use the traditional roadside 'FIT' test to determine whether or not they believe someone is driving under the influence of illegal drugs involving, for example, asking someone to touch their nose.

Cheshire Police traffic cops

Superintendent Bev Raistrick, Head of Roads Policing, said: “Every day officers have to deal with the devastating consequences of drug driving, whether that is arresting offenders, attending fatal collisions or supporting families who have lost loved ones in collisions caused by drug driving.

“Driving under the influence of drugs is extremely dangerous; it affects your reaction time, making it harder for you to judge your speed, judge your distance between you and other vehicles and notice potential hazards. All of this means that you are more likely to be involved in a collision whilst driving under the influence of either alcohol or drugs.”

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Those caught drug driving face the prospect of a minimum 12 month driving ban, a fine of up to £5,000 and up to six months in prison. This could affect their employment and will also lead to a significant increase in the cost of their car insurance.

Anyone who suspects that somebody may be driving whilst under the influence of illegal drugs is urged to contact Cheshire Police on 101. Alternatively, information can also be reported anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.