Nissan test driver could lose job after falling foul of new drug-driving laws

Ian Pearson could lose his job as a test driver at Nissan's Sunderland plant.
Ian Pearson could lose his job as a test driver at Nissan's Sunderland plant.
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A Nissan test driver has become one of the first people in the North East to be banned from the roads following new drug regulations.

Ian Pearson, 26, was stopped by police officers in the early hours after finishing a night shift at the car maker’s Wearside plant on March 19.

The effects of driving under the influence of drugs can be devastating.

Sarah Sillars, chief executive officer of the Advanced Institute of Motorists

New laws introduced in March this year mean drivers face prosecution if they exceed limits set for the presence of eight illegal drugs. Police can also issue roadside tests, using ‘drugalysers’.

Prosecutor Lee Poppett told Sunderland Magistrates’ Court, police pulled over Pearson’s Ford Puma on Hylton Road and noticed he had bloodshot eyes, and smelled of cannabis.

They attempted a roadside breath test but Pearson could not produce enough saliva.

After being taken into custody, a blood specimen later revealed that he had 6.7 micrograms of cannabis per litre of blood in his system, with the legal limit two micrograms.

Pearson, who has previously been banned from driving and has a conviction for being drunk and disorderly, pleaded guilty to driving while under the influence of drugs.

Susan Gray, defending, told JPs: “It’s 99 per cent certain that he will lose his job and there will be a huge change in his lifestyle.”

Magistrates were told that despite recent legislation changes, Pearson, of Halsted Square, Hylton Lane Estate, could not be eligible for a place on a drink-drive rehabilitation course.

Pearson was given a three-year driving ban, a £300 fine and ordered to pay £85 court costs and a £30 victim surcharge.

In the first two months since the law was introduced, Northumbria Police arrested 97 drivers on suspicion of drug-driving, with Durham Police arresting 23, according to the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM).

Sarah Sillars, IAM chief executive officer, said: “We have reached a point where drink-driving has become socially unacceptable, particularly among younger people.

“We now need a sustained campaign to back up the police enforcement effort and ensure drug-driving is seen in exactly the same way. ”