MORE than 1,000 people in Wales were found guilty of drug-related driving offences last year – representing a huge rise on the previous year's figures.

A Welsh Government report, published on Tuesday, showed 1,041 people were found guilty of such offences in 2018, up on 561 in 2017.

Nearly all of these offences were of 'driving with a controlled drug above the specified limit'.

This sharp rise in drug-driving convictions does not necessarily mean that more people are taking drugs and driving – rather, police forces are carrying out more testing and enforcement than they did in previous years.

“As we approach Christmas, we are once again urging people not to get behind the wheel if they are under the influence of alcohol or drugs," Chief Inspector Martyn Smith, of Gwent Police, said. "Every time anyone gets behind the wheel after having a drink or taking drugs, the chances of an accident increases."

The number of guilty verdicts in Wales for alcohol-related driving offences also rose, by two per cent, on 2017's figures.

Last year, Gwent Police carried out 2,379 breath tests, of which 428 (18 per cent) were either positive or refused by the driver.

This percentage was the highest of Wales' four police forces, but in the context of total population Gwent fared best – 0.7 positive or refused breath tests per 1,000 people.

The report also showed seven or eight per cent of all road accidents in Wales involving fatalities or serious injuries were caused by drink-driving.

"Alcohol and drugs impair judgement, making drivers and riders over-confident and more likely to take risks," Ch Insp Ford said. "Reactions are slower, stopping distances increase, judgement of speed and distance is compromised and the field of vision reduces.

"The ability to drive or ride safely is seriously affected and the likelihood of a collision increases dramatically.

"We will continue to tackle the irresponsible individuals who put themselves and innocent road users at great risk."

Anyone with information relating to someone who may be driving after drinking or taking drugs can contact Gwent Police by texting 07464 645100 or calling 101. In an emergency, always call 999.