More than forty taxi and private hire drivers have been arrested for drug driving on Merseyside since the start of the year, police have revealed.
A spate of recent incidents has prompted Merseyside Police to issue a stark warning to cabbies and private hire drivers that taking drugs and driving could result in losing their job, being imprisoned and even them or someone else dying.
There have been six tweets in the past fortnight from the force's Roads Policing Unit have about specific instances of this crime, and Inspector Keith Kellett told the ECHO it was a "disappointing" trend.
He said: “Drug driving is a serious offence and leaves our communities vulnerable. All motorists have a duty of care to themselves, those they are travelling with and other road users which is why it is particularly important that taxi drivers and private hire companies consider the risks they may be putting themselves and others in if they’re found to be driving whilst using drugs.
“Merseyside’s taxi and private hire drivers are extremely important members of the community and most offer a reputable and safe service getting you from point A to B. A minority of these drivers however, have broken their position of trust by driving whilst taking drugs, something that cannot be taken lightly.
“Drug driving could result in job loss, loss of independence, a criminal record, increased insurance costs, imprisonment and even fatality."
It's councils who make the decisions on whether to issue or revoke licences for drivers, and Wirral council policy governing conduct of drivers is very clear on the matter.
It says: "Licence holders who commit an act of, or are being investigated for an allegation of, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or where a licence holder has been disqualified from driving as a result of such an offence will generally have their licence revoked with immediate effect."
Insp Kellett said "most people" on Merseyside drive responsibly, and are aware of the serious consequences being under the influences of drink or drugs can have.
He added: “However, it is disappointing that there has been a recent increase in taxi drivers and private hire drivers being found to be driving whilst under the influence of drugs. While those caught using drugs still represent a small minority of drivers, I cannot stress enough the dangers that this presents.
“With further enforcement, we’ll continue to educate all drivers around the risks they’re taking by driving impaired, again ensuring that our roads are as safe as possible for the vast majority of law-abiding road users.
“Any driver involved in a road traffic collision, or who commits a traffic offence, can expect to be breathalysed, and may be required to perform an impairment test.
"The current drug driving legislation makes the process of prosecuting drug drivers much simpler and our rates of prosecution are high. Our message to those drivers would be don’t risk it. The consequences of being caught can be long-lasting and life-changing."