Drug drivers as young as 15 and as old as 77 are being caught high on cocaine and cannabis: 19,828 motorists were reported by police for taking illegal substances last year, DVLA figures show
- Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency data reveals cannabis is biggest issue
- Also cases of drivers taking cocktail of four or more drugs before they drove
Drug drivers aged 15 to 77 are being caught high on cocaine and cannabis on our roads, shocking figures have revealed.
A total of 19,828 motorists were reported by police for drug driving last year, with the youngest being boys aged 15 and the oldest offender a 77-year-old woman.
The Mail has obtained detailed data from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency which reveals for the first time that cannabis is causing the biggest problem, with more than 10,000 drivers caught on the drug last year.
Overall, more than half of the drug drivers in the UK were found to have cannabis in their blood.
But the DVLA results show that thousands more motorists were found to be high on cannabis and cocaine, or cannabis with another drug.
Conviction data suggests that 83 per cent of drug drivers are white, followed by Asian people (8 per cent) and black people (7 per cent) [Stock image]
There were also dozens of shocking cases where drivers had taken a cocktail of four or more drugs, including cannabis, cocaine, ketamine, ecstasy and amphetamine before getting behind the wheel.
The startling figures come after the Mail revealed yesterday that drug driving has now overtaken drink driving across the country for the first time, but scores of offenders are escaping justice.
New figures show that a total of 10,190 drivers were found to be over the legal limit for cannabis last year, with another 1,934 testing positive for cannabis and cocaine.
Analysis shows that cocaine is the second most common substance, with 5,980 drivers found to be on the class A drug.
At least 210 drivers tested positive for ketamine, 78 for amphetamine, 47 for ecstasy and three for heroin, but many more drivers took these drugs in combination with other illegal substances.
The age profile of offenders indicates that motorists are continuing to abuse drugs into their retirement.
In February, a 70-year-old man living in the picturesque Cotswolds town of Stow-on-the-Wold was condemned by a judge for behaving ‘like a juvenile delinquent’ after he was found to have taken cocaine and MDMA.
In total, 35 pensioners were reported to the DVLA by police last year, including those found to have taken cocaine, cannabis, amphetamine and the prescription drug valium.
The figures show that the number of male offenders outnumbered women almost 10-1, with 17,998 men caught by police, compared to 1,830 female drivers.
The most common conviction age for men was 32.
The figures show that the number of male offenders outnumbered women almost 10-1 [Stock image]
For women, they were most likely to be caught drug driving at the ages of 30 and 34.
Yesterday the Mail revealed a National Police Chiefs’ Council report which concluded that ‘drug driving is more prevalent across the UK than drink driving’.
But many motorists are still not being prosecuted due to delays in processing tests.
It follows a six-week national crackdown named Operation Limit which saw an 18 per cent rise in arrests for drink and drug driving with 6,130 drivers caught last year compared to 5,186 in the same period in 2021.
Half of motorists under 25 tested by police were found to be positive for drugs but that figure rose in the over-25s to 80.5 per cent.
Conviction data suggests that 83 per cent of drug drivers are white, followed by Asian people (8 per cent) and black people (7 per cent).
In the report, police chiefs warn about the prohibitive cost of processing blood tests and average four/five-month backlog for test results.
‘The cost of drug driving enforcement represents a significant challenge to increasing drug driving enforcement in the UK,’ the report concludes.
‘The Home Office should review the blood testing process and seek ways to reduce costs and increase the efficiency of laboratory testing by increasing capacity, improved procurement, or other means. This review should also evaluate the possibility of seeking to reclaim blood testing costs from those who are found guilty.’
Currently anyone who fails a drug test at the roadside must have a blood sample taken by a ‘healthcare provider’ to measure the exact amount in their system.
But the report warns: ‘This system creates unnecessary delays and is an inefficient use of both hospital and police resources.
The Mail has obtained detailed data from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency which reveals for the first time that cannabis is causing the biggest problem [Stock image]
‘While many stations have force healthcare professionals in attendance, this is by no means universal and discussions with police officers suggest it can be a significant challenge, particularly on busy evenings such as Friday and Saturday nights.’
Even when a sample is taken in time, the report reveals that it takes ‘at least four to five months’ for blood tests to come back.
The report says: ‘Police forces have raised concerns about the current laboratory test turnaround time.
‘Furthermore, backlogs in laboratories are not uncommon and concerns have been raised that backlogs could lead to the statutory time limit (generally six months in Magistrates’ courts) being missed for some samples.’
It goes on: ‘Backlogs in laboratories may also have contributed to some forces cancelling or delaying campaigns focused on reducing drug driving.
‘Furthermore, some forces have encouraged officers to focus on other crimes potentially committed before drug testing a driver because of backlogs, such as encouraging officers to test for drink first.’
Yesterday Jack Cousens, head of roads policy for the AA, said: ‘Drug driving has been a silent epidemic in road safety for the last few years and it is time the issue was given some serious scrutiny.
‘Public perception may consider it to be a “young driver” problem but with the average age of drug driving convictions being in their early 30s it shows that this offence is more widespread.
‘In order to tackle this issue we need more education of the dangers, as well as more enforcement.’
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