Drug & Alcohol Testing:

Drink and Drug Driving – An Update in Statistics

Published: 9th November 2020

Driving for work can be dangerous, it contributes to far more work-related accidental deaths and serious injuries than all other work activities[1].

In a previous blog titled, ‘Drug Driving – A Guide for Employers and Employees’ we urged employers to raise awareness on the dangers of drug misuse – driving to and from work, during work and while operating heavy machinery. During the height of lockdown drink and drug driving was on the increase. In this blog, we are taking a look at why drink and drug driving is still an issue and how SYNLAB Laboratory Services can help.

Drink Driving

During the first few months of lockdown despite the closure of pubs, restaurants and bars, drink driving cases across the UK were on the rise. This has been linked to the increase in people drinking at home.  

Despite lockdown, two of Wales’ four police forces recorded an increase in the number of drink-drive arrests between March and July this year compared to the same period last year[2].  Now that the majority of employees are back in work, lockdown drinking habits may be hard to lose.

Drug Driving

Fleets are being urged to consider drug testing their drivers, as some police forces report arrests for drug-driving have surpassed drink-driving for the first time. In July 2020 a Scottish Police Authority paper warned that the number of drug-driving cases in Scotland could soon exceed the number of drink-driving offences.

Looking specifically at the lockdown period alone, in April and May 2020 Essex Police recorded two-and-a-half to three times more drug driving arrests, compared to drink driving.[3]  The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) has been looking at the issue of drug addiction during the lockdown period, and in an extensive report says that ‘those who use drink or drugs are now using more’.

Four out of five respondents to a Fleet News poll said drug-driving has become such a safety issue for fleets that they think employers should be routinely testing company car and van drivers.[4]

Driving or attempting to drive while above the legal limit or unfit through drink can lead to: 6 months imprisonment, an unlimited fine, a driving ban and reputational damage to an organization. The law adopts a zero tolerance approach to eight illegal drugs, a balanced approach to amphetamine, which can be prescribed and a road safety risk based approach to eight common medications.

Workplace Testing Options

At SYNLAB Laboratory Services, we partner with over 3,500 customers across the UK to help minimise the risks associated with drugs and alcohol in the workplace whilst protecting your people and business. We offer a range of different testing methods to meet your individual business needs:

Drug Testing

Usually conducted in two stages, the first stage when testing for drugs is a primary screen; an instant test usually performed at our accredited laboratory or the customer site.

We recommend urine testing as it is reliable, easy to collect and analyse. Saliva is an alternative option when toilet facilities are not readily unavailable.

The second stage is to confirm the result of the primary screen by sending it to our laboratory which quantifies the drugs or metabolites in the sample against recognised cut off levels. 

Alcohol Testing

When testing for alcohol, we recommend breathalysers for instant and accurate results. At SYNLAB Laboratory Services, we use calibrated electronic breathalysers which are the same models used by many police forces in the UK.

Other options available for alcohol testing include blood analysis (CDT and LFT) and urine testing kits.

To find out more about how SYNLAB Laboratory Services can support you with a Drug and Alcohol Policy and testing solutions, you can call us on 01873 856688, email [email protected] or click here for further information.


[1] https://www.rospa.com/rospaweb/docs/advice-services/road-safety/employers/work-drink-drugs.pdf

[2] https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-53708636

[3] https://www.roadsafetysupport.co.uk/news/record-number-drug-drivers-arrested-essex-during-lockdown

[4] https://www.fleetnews.co.uk/news/fleet-industry-news/2020/07/21/coronavirus-drug-drive-rise-warning-for-fleets

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