The number of people being caught driving under the influence of drink and drugs in Tayside has shot up in 2020.
Figures from Police Scotland show the number of drink and drug driving offences increased from 456 in 2019 to 599 in 2020 so far.
This includes the number of people driving under the influence of a controlled drug shooting up from nine in 2019 to 127 in 2020, and the number of people in charge of a car while under the influence of a controlled drug went from zero to eight.
This comes after Police Scotland was granted new powers in October 2019 to test motorists at the roadside for drugs.
In 2020 there were also 84 counts of driving while unfit through drink or drugs, 16 counts of a person being in charge of a car through drink or drugs, 182 counts of driving with a blood alcohol content above the prescribed limit, and 16 cases of being in charge of a car with a blood alcohol content above the prescribed limit.
Eighty-three people also failed to provide a breath test at the roadside, and a further 83 people failed to provide a breath, blood or urine sample at a police station between January and October 2020.
Catching drink and drug drivers easier on the quiet lockdown roads
Inspector Greg Burns from the Tayside road policing unit has said it has been easier to spot illegal driving in 2020 because the coronavirus lockdown has made the roads quieter.
He said: “Police officers have remained on proactive patrols on the road network and in our communities throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
“During the lockdown restrictions, roads have been significantly quieter – making illegal driving behaviours easier to detect in some cases.
“Police Scotland now has the ability to test drivers at the roadside for drug driving, following legislation being introduced in October 2019, which accounts for some of the rise in offences recorded.
“The dangers of speeding are well known and have been shown time and again as being a significant factor in fatal and serious injury collisions.
“Speeding, drink or drug driving and driving while distracted increases your risk of being involved in a collision.
“Despite the clear risks involved, a minority of drivers are still willing to take their chance.”
Motorists struggling with drink and drugs urged to get help
Dave Barrie from We Are With You Dundee has encouraged anyone who is struggling with their drug or alcohol use to reach out for help.
He said: “It is quite a surprise to see an increase in drug driving go from nine to 127 in 2020.
“That is massive.
“This year there has been far less car use as well so for it to go up to 599 offences from 465 is surprising as well.
“We would encourage anyone who is having issues with substance use, both alcohol and illicit substances, to get help, and there is good help available in Dundee.
“Getting behind the wheel under the influence of any substance is the last thing people should be doing.
“Under no circumstances should people be driving under the influence so if they are having problems I would encourage them to get the support they need.”