Wales

North Wales drug driving 'becoming as common as drink-driving'

police officer with breath test Image copyright Press Association
Image caption North Wales Police has made 656 drug-drive arrests this year

People driving under the influence of drugs is becoming as common as drink driving, North Wales Police have said.

Officers have made 865 drink-drive arrests and 656 for driving under the influence of drugs in 2018, compared to 882 and 600 respectively in 2017.

Sgt Meurig Jones said the change was in part because of increasing numbers of younger people taking drugs alongside alcohol on nights out.

He added that the consequences of drug driving could be "catastrophic".

More than 2,500 motorists in Wales have been caught driving under the influence of drugs since new police powers were introduced three years ago.

Announcing a Christmas crackdown, officers said they would be concentrating equally on people who drive after taking cocaine or cannabis as they will on drunk drivers.

They have found a regional split in the trend, with arrests showing that drivers caught under the influence of drugs in north-east Wales are more likely to have taken cocaine. In north-west Wales, cannabis was more likely.

Sgt Jones said there were several reasons fuelling the rise.

"One is that drugs are becoming more available," he said. "More people are taking to using cocaine and cannabis instead of alcohol - or with it

Image caption North Wales Police has arrested more than 1,000 people for drug driving in three years

"The second reason is that the test is far easier and so we are catching more people."

Although police find drug drivers among all age groups, Sgt Jones added that the "younger generation, instead of just using alcohol, they are having two pints of alcohol and three or four lines of cocaine".

"There is nothing worse than having to go out and knock on someone's door and break that awful news [about a fatal crash]," he added.

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