THE number of NSW motorists caught driving high on illegal drugs has nearly doubled in the past year.
This startling statistic from police comes as new figures show hundreds of drivers found guilty of drug driving are walking free from court without receiving any punishment or having a conviction recorded.
Magistrates have dismissed charges, or decided not to fine or suspend the licences, of close to one in three of all first offenders convicted of drug driving.
Figures provided by NSW Police show that in 2013 one in every 47 motorists stopped for random drug tests tested positive.
But so far this year, one in 26 drivers stopped for a test returned a positive reading for illegal drugs.
Traffic and Highway Patrol Commander Assistant Commissioner John Hartley said there had been 914 positive results this year.
“Compared to 729 (positive tests) for all of last year, this should be of concern to not only those that have been prosecuted, but to all road users,” he said.
NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research figures reveal between 2010 and 2012, about 1570 drivers were convicted of driving under the influence of drugs. But despite tough penalties 488 drivers were not punished because it was a first offence.