FLYING HIGH BELOW THE RADAR While drink-driving frequently brings drivers
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to court, drug-driving is an area where there are relatively few prosecutions or convictions.
This is odd bearing in mind the widespread use of drugs, the possession of which is prohibited under the Misuse of Drugs Act, or those that are controlled or restricted by prescription but where there may be abuse.
The most recent annual figures available (2011) show 52,000 drink-driving prosecutions compared with 2,700 court cases for impaired drug-driving. This low level of prosecution and low conviction rate have arisen mainly out of difficulties in proving impairment through the use of drugs.
Nevertheless, the Department for Transport is strongly of the view, based on research, that illicit drugs may have been present in — though not necessarily in all cases caused — up to 310 (18%) of all fatalities in 2011 and that the existence of illegal drugs in drivers may be at a level approximately half that found in drink-driving. In short, there is a considerable amount of latent drug-driving flying below the radar.