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Information obtained through a Freedom of Information request from the National Police Chief’s Council have shown that arrests for drug-driving in Merseyside reached a new high for 2017 with 1248 arrests made, compared to 801 in 2016.

Comparisons between the two festive periods also show an increase, with 136 drivers testing positive during the period in 2017, against 89 for the same time in 2016.

The Christmas period also showed a peak in drink-drive arrests, although the two years previously showed a decline overall. 125 drivers were arrested in December 2017, while in 2016 the figure was 111. In the Merseyside area, 1200 motorists were arrested for driving while over the limit.

Drug drivers tend to be slightly younger than drink drivers with an average age of thirty against the drink drivers’ average of 38.

Co-ordinator for the Merseyside Road Safety Partnership, Rebecca Power, said: “The latest figures show that drug driving is clearly becoming a very serious problem in Merseyside, not only during the Christmas period but throughout the rest of the year.

“Motorists who drug drive are just as irresponsible as those driving under the influence of alcohol and they put lives at risk, including their own, in exactly the same way.”

Agreeing with Ms Powers, Merseyside’s police commissioner Jane Kennedy said:

“The figures revealed by this crackdown over the Christmas period are deeply troubling.

“It is completely unacceptable to get behind the wheel while under the influence of drugs. It is irresponsible, reckless and selfish.

“Drug drivers must take heed, roadside drug testing is being carried out and, be warned, Merseyside Police will take robust action against anyone caught.

“The sentence for drug driving, if it causes death or serious injury currently carries a sentence of up to 14 years in prison, but the anguish and heartbreak caused to the victims and their families can last a lifetime.”