A Sheffield teenager has become one of the first people in the country to be convicted under new drug-driving laws as police vow to take a zero-tolerance approach to the illegal activity on Yorkshire’s roads.
Elliott Greaves, 18, was fined and banned from driving for 20 months after being tested and found to have illegal levels of benzoylecgonine, which is the main metabolite of cocaine, in his system.
The teenager, from Lundwood Grove in the Owlthorpe area, was stopped by officers on High Street in Beighton just before midday on March 6, just four days after the new drug driving law was introduced by the Government.
He was tested at the scene using the new roadside drug drive kits, and a positive result for cocaine was returned within minutes.
Greaves was arrested on suspicion of driving over the prescribed limit and a blood sample was taken at the police station.
The results of the blood test returned last month showed he was three times over the limit on benzoylecgonine, which is the main metabolite of cocaine and is formed in the liver after consuming the drug. The current limit for benzoylecgonine is set at 50 micrograms per litre of blood.
Greaves was charged under the new legislation, Section 5A of the Road Traffic Act, driving or being in charge of a motor vehicle with concentration of specified controlled drug above the specified limit.
He pleaded guilty in court on Tuesday and was fined £200, disqualified for 20 months and ordered to pay £80 costs with a £20 victim surcharge.
Chief Inspector Glen Suttenwood for South Yorkshire’s Road Policing Unit said: “The thoughtless and potentially dangerous actions of this young man have resulted in his driving disqualification, ironically for a longer period than he has even held his driving licence.
“I’m sure he will undoubtedly regret his decision to drive that night with an illegal drug in his system, and I can only hope Greaves, as well as others who choose to break the law, now realise that driving while impaired through drugs has serious consequences.
“We are committed in leading the way to make sure South Yorkshire’s roads are safe for all road users and pedestrians, and we will continue to reinforce the message that drug driving, as well as drink driving, will not be accepted or tolerated in our county.”
The conviction is the first in South Yorkshire under the new laws and is understood to be among the first in the country.
The new drug-drive laws – covering both illegal and prescription drugs and enforced by new roadside ‘drugalysers’ devices or traditional roadside impairment tests – came into force on March 2 as part of a new offence created by the Crime and Courts Act 2013.
It has always been illegal to drive while under the influence of drugs, but new laws specify exact limits for 16 different illegal and prescription drugs, bringing the legislation in line with drink-driving laws.
The law sets limits at very low levels for eight illegal and eight prescription drugs, including those for insomnia, severe pain and anxiety. The limits set for these drugs exceed normal prescribed doses.
Police do not need to prove a motorist is unfit to drive, just that they have an illegal level of drugs in their system.
Motorists convicted of drug-driving will get a minimum one year driving ban, a fine of up to £5,000, up to a year in prison and a criminal record. The offence will also show up on their driving licence.