Almost 1,000 people were caught driving under the influence of drugs in December, according to the latest figures from the National Police Chiefs Council, prompting calls from road safety charity, Brake for a zero-tolerance approach.

Figures released earlier this week show that of the 1,888 drivers tested by police during December last year 931 were over the legal drug driving limit. According to the National Police Chiefs Council, this is more people than were detected during the whole of 2014.

Last December was the first Christmas clampdown where police forces were operating under new anti-drug driving legislation, covering 17 legal and illegal drugs, making it easier to identify and prosecute offenders. Police forces were also provided with better roadside screening and testing devices.

The new law sees those found guilty of drug driving face a £5,000 fine, a one year driving ban and a minimum sentence of six months in prison.

Brake is urging the government to provide traffic police with resources to tackle drug driving all year round, and not just during periods where safety campaigns have traditionally been run, such as at Christmas.

David Robinson, a specialist road traffic accident solicitor based in Thompsons Solicitors’ Newcastle office, said: “It is positive that the introduction of new legislation and testing devices has led to more drug drivers being caught, but we would support Brake’s calls for a clampdown on drivers who flout the law the rest of the year.

“Drug drivers shamelessly disregard their own safety, as well as the safety of their passengers and other innocent road users. It is clear that the roadside testing makes a difference and that there is a problem. The government cannot ignore it and must ensure that police forces have the resources to making testing a priority throughout the year so that those who think about taking the risk know there is a real chance they may be caught.”