MORE drug drivers are being convicted since new technology was introduced.

Figures released by Sussex Police show a climb in the number of motorists sentenced for driving while over the legal limit of certain drugs.

The statistics were released on the third anniversary of a change in Government legislation, which made it illegal to drive while over the specified limit of 17 legal and illegal drugs.

In the 12 months leading up to that change, 62 drug- driving arrests were made in Sussex. In the 12 months after the law was changed, 325 arrests were made, and a further 558 the year after.

Between March 2 last year and February 26, a total of 464 drug-driving arrests were made in the county.

Chief Inspector Warren Franklin, of the Surrey and Sussex Roads Policing Unit, said: “Prior to the introduction of this drug-driving law, we had to rely on a roadside impairment test to prove a driver was under the influence of drugs.

“Now, with this new legislation and the DrugWipe kit – a tool which tests for a number of drugs at the roadside – we can prove it in a matter of minutes. This makes it a lot easier to catch and convict criminals, and this is reflected in the increased number of arrests made since the law was introduced.

“What hasn’t changed is our stance on roads policing – we have a zero tolerance approach to drug-driving and anyone caught committing this offence will be dealt with robustly.”

Following a two-vehicle crash last February, 24-year-old builder Martin Roberts, from Chichester, was charged with driving with more than 800mcg of benzoylecgonine (the main metabolite of cocaine) and 33mcg of cocaine per litre of blood in his system. He was also charged with possession of a weapon designed for the discharge of a noxious liquid, namely CS gas. The legal limits for these substances are 50mcg and 10mcg per litre of blood.

Roberts was disqualified from driving for 18 months and sentenced to a 12-month community order, which requires him to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work for the crime.