By Phoebe Fuller @Phoebe_Fuller
More than 300 drivers in South Yorkshire have been arrested on drug-driving charges in the last year, police have revealed.
Out of 525 roadside drug tests conducted, 57% of drivers have tested positive for cocaine and/or cannabis.
Now, South Yorkshire Police have launched a campaign to raise awareness of the dangers and consequences of drug-driving.
The campaign named Operation Illuminate comes one year after additional legislation was introduced to combat drug-driving which was funded by South Yorkshire Safer Roads Partnership.
Operation Illuminate runs until the end of March, in line with a national campaign by Think! Department for Transport.
It is aimed predominantly at male drivers aged 17-30 as this is the demographic with the highest record of drug-driving.
Chief Inspector Glen Suttenwood of South Yorkshire Police says: “Our aim with the campaign is for drivers to understand the implications of driving under the influence of drugs and to raise awareness that drug driving now carries exactly the same penalties and consequences of drink-driving.”
The additional legislation, brought in on March 2 last year, makes it an offence under Section 5A STA 1988, driving while over the prescribed limit, and applies to high quantities of prescription drugs as well as illegal substances.
For illegal drugs, the limit has been set to rule out accidental exposure such as passive smoking of cannabis.
Officers can use roadside drug tests to determine in minutes if a driver has cocaine or cannabis in their system, and the penalties may include a minimum 12 month driving ban, up to 6 months in prison and an unlimited fine.
Joanne Werhle of South Yorkshire Safer Roads Partnership says: “We are determined to make our roads in South Yorkshire safer and protect drivers in our county from irresponsible and thoughtless actions of others.”