Tougher measures aimed at drug-drivers are proposed in a consultation document launched by DfT today, including the requirement to undertake rehabilitation courses before being allowed back behind the wheel.
Whilst drink-drive related deaths and injuries have plummeted, falling by 88% between 1979 and 2015, drug-related driving offences are on the rise, according to government figures, with over 12,000 convicted in 2019 and 44% committed by re-offenders.
DfT research show that 713 people were seriously injured in drug-driving collisions in 2020, up from 499 in 2016, and some police forces are reporting thdfat they are arresting more drug drivers than drink-drivers.
The call for evidence, dubbed Protecting the Public from Repeat Offenders, is part of wider government action to make drug-driving as much of a social taboo as drink-driving.
Currently, those convicted of drug-driving are handed a driving ban, prison sentence or fine by the courts. However, unlike drink drivers, they aren’t required to complete rehabilitation courses before resuming driving.
The DfT’s call for evidence is asking whether drug-drivers should likewise have to undergo rehabilitation, to help better protect the public.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “Drink-driving is now rightly seen as a social taboo by most of us in this country and we have worked hard to drive down drink-drive related deaths.
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“But if we are to make our roads safer still, there is no room to be lax on drug-driving, which is why I have launched this call for evidence today.
“It’s only right that drug-drivers must undergo rehabilitation before getting back behind the wheel, helping protect the public from this hidden problem and stamping out drug-driving for good.”
Statistics show non-attendees to drink-driving rehabilitation courses are over twice as likely to commit a new drink-driving offence within three years, so by offering high-risk drug-driving offenders the same support, the government hopes to bring down the number of repeat offenders.
RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes said: “Drug-driving ruins lives and threatens the safety of all road users. We welcome proposals to offer drug-driving offenders rehabilitation courses, in the same way those caught drink-driving are offered them, because the evidence shows this helps to reduce reoffending and improves road safety.”
Professor Kim Wolff, MBE, King's College London, added: “I was delighted to see the launch of the consultation on a High-Risk Offender (HRO) Scheme for drug-drivers and the Drug Driving Rehabilitation (DDR) course, as part of an ongoing programme of work being undertaken by the DfT to improve road safety.
“Data gathered over the last six years has enabled the DfT to identify through an Expert Panel very high-risk drug-driving behaviours warranting the need for a High Risk Offender Scheme, which rolled out alongside the DDR will help improve driver behaviours as well as provide more general societal benefits.”
The call for evidence launched today will also seek views on the relationship between medicinal cannabis and road safety, to ensure road safety policy keeps up to date with changing societal norms.
The call for evidence is open to responses until 28 June 2022.