THERE is no excuse for drug driving.

That is the clear message from Essex Police as it continues to arrest record-breaking numbers of people for putting lives at risk with their drug impaired driving.

And the reason for this hardline stance is understandable because it is illegal to take drugs in the first place.

“It is not like alcohol - there is no acceptable limit with drugs,” head of roads policing in Essex Temp Chief Insp Sharn Taylor explains.

“And we see people from all walks of life committing the offence.

“For example, there might be people taking cocaine socially at the weekend, getting behind the wheel the next day and being caught.

“But they should not be taking drugs in the first place.”

Derivatives of most drugs can stay in the system for between 24 and 48 hours.

It could be motorists do not feel their driving is impaired, the effects they wanted from taking the substances are long gone, but they stay in the bloodstream and make them a danger to themselves and others.

There are legal limits but they are kept incredibly low to account for accidental exposure such as the passive smoking of a tiny amount of cannabis.

Drug driving on our roads is now outstripping drink driving. So much so that the number of people arrested in 2019 thus far for the offence already eclipses the 1,039 in the whole of 2018.

Part of the reason for that is technology.

Hundreds of officers have been trained to use drug wipe equipment which can detect substances in the saliva of drivers suspected of having taken drugs.

An initial reading can be taken there and then on the roadside.

Ms Taylor said: “We have more than 600 officers in all sorts of different roles trained to use the drugs wipes and we are running proactive patrols to try and find offenders.

“I am asked all the time whether more people are taking drugs or if they are more readily available but I don’t have data or information to say whether that is true or not.

“Obviously, drugs have been around for donkey’s years but what I can say is we are in a better place to be able to catch them.”

Anyone who admits drug driving at court, or is convicted of the offence, faces a mandatory 12-month ban from driving.

And the sudden loss of a licence can have a huge impact on people and their livelihoods.

More importantly than the penalties for drug drivers though, are the potential dangers to innocent people caught up in their behaviour.

“It can be life changing for people if they or their family members are hurt,” Ms Taylor said.

“The decision making from an individual who chooses to drug drive can have a serious impact on others.”

Anyone who does have information about people they suspect are drug driving should call 101.