More than half of tested drivers fail ‘drugalyser’ tests in South Yorkshire

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More than half of South Yorkshire motorists given roadside drug tests have failed them, according to new figures.

A Freedom of Information request revealed since regulations were introduced in March of last year allowing police to use “drugalyser” devices at the roadside 450 motorists have been tested in the region.

Figures for March 2015 to January of this year show of the 450 tests carried out by South Yorkshire Police, 262 motorists, or 58 per cent, tested positive.

The other 188 motorists – or 42 per cent – tested negative.

Under the regulations drivers face prosecution if they exceed limits set for the presence of eight illegal drugs, including cannabis and cocaine, and eight prescription drugs.

Current powers allow police to use “drugalyser” devices at the roadside in a similar way to the breathalyser tests used to test alcohol levels.

The regulations set low levels for the eight illegal drugs, with higher levels set for eight prescription drugs.

Police have equipment to screen drivers for cannabis and cocaine at the roadside and are also able to test for these and other drugs including LSD, ketamine, ecstasy and heroin at a police station, even if a driver passes the roadside check.

Those using prescription drugs within recommended amounts will not be penalised.

Speaking about the introduction of the legislation a Department for Transport spokesman said: “For the first time those driving with drugs in the body are dealt with in the same way as drink drivers.

“Before the new law, police would have to take drug samples at a station, now they can test for drugs at the roadside.”

The news comes after it was revealed South Yorkshire Police will use “drugalyser” tests as part of a campaign to crack down on bad driving after road deaths in the region nearly doubled last year compared to 2014.

A total of 48 people died following collisions during 2015 – a marked increase from the previous year when 26 people lost their lives.

As part of Operation Illuminate roads in the Balby area of Doncaster and Pitsmoor and Fir Vale areas of Sheffield, identified as road traffic collision hot-spots, will be targeted by officers using drug driving kits and breathalysers.