Advertiser launches drug-driving campaign in name of schoolgirl Lillian Groves
SCHOOLGIRL Lillian Groves was playing outside her home with her little brother when she was hit and killed by a speeding driver.
Last month, her family's despair turned to anger when her killer was handed an eight-month sentence, despite police finding cannabis in his blood and a half-smoked joint on his dashboard.
Now Lillian's parents Gary and Natasha are determined their daughter's death can be used to force a change in the law.
Backed by the Advertiser, they have called for the Government to adopt Lillian's Law.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Our heavyweight cards have FREE UV silk coating, FREE next day delivery & VAT included. Choose from 1000's of pre-designed templates or upload your own artwork. Orders dispatched within 24hrs.
Terms: Visit our site for more products: Business Cards, Compliment Slips, Letterheads, Leaflets, Postcards, Posters & much more. All items are free next day delivery. www.myprint-247.co.uk
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Sunday, May 26 2013
This would involve rolling out roadside drug testing devices rolled out across the UK, in an effort to reduce the deadly problem of drug-driving – a factor in as many as one in five road deaths.
Speaking at the family's home in Headley Drive, New Addington, Natasha said: "A line has to be drawn somewhere and we are drawing it at Lillian.
"The Government needs to send out a clear message that drug-driving is being taken seriously. "If decisive action isn't taken it will be someone else's daughter, someone else's brother or sister, someone else's little princess."
The focus of Lillian's Law will be the introduction of testing devices, similar to breathalysers, to enable police to accurately detect if whether a driver is under the influence of drugs.
They would be used both during random stops and in the immediate aftermath of collisions.
While such devices exist, legislation has yet to enable their use.
The Groves family believe these tests would have a similar impact on drug-driving levels as the breathalyser had on drink-driving.
They are also adamant a roadside test would have found her daughter's killer John Page was unfit to drive before he hit Lillian, 14, on June 26 last year, because he had admitted in court to smoking cannabis earlier on that day.
He said he couldn't remember how the joint, which had his DNA on it, came to be on his dashboard. Police did not test Page till nine hours after he was arrested, finding cannabis in his blood stream but not enough to charge him with the more serious offence of causing death by careless driving while under the influence of drugs, which can lead to a maximum 14-year sentence.
Michaela Groves, Lillian's aunt, said: "It takes something terrible to happen to make you realise how obviously wrong the law is and that it needs to be changed."
Gary added: "At the moment the message being sent out to those who take drugs and drive is that they can get away with it. These people need to know that when they drive under the influence of drugs they are gambling with someone else's life."
The Groves family now want you to sign the Advertiser's petition supporting the introduction of Lillian's Law, which also calls for the creation of a drug-drive limit, tougher sentences for drug-drivers and more random roadside tests.
They have begun their campaign in New Addington circulating a petition among friends and neighbours, but are sure it is of national importance.
Natasha said: "I'm doing this for Lillian. Her life will not be in vain. I didn't have her for 14 short years to let her go without a fight.
"But it's also for all the other people before who have tried and not got anywhere. I'm not going to let this drop. We don't want anyone else to end up in this situation."
Drug driving – the facts:
88,629 – The number of people stopped and breath-tested for alcohol in the UK in June 2011
337 – The number of people stopped and checked for drug-driving in June 2011
71,449 – The number of people convicted of drink-driving in England and Wales in 2008
1,644 – The number of people convicted of drug-driving in England and Wales in 2008
1-in-10 – The number of people aged between 18 and 29 who admitted getting behind the wheel after taking illegal drugs
11 percent – The percentage of fatal road crash victims with cannabis found in them in 2001, up from 2.6 per cent in 1989
1-in-5 – In 2001, a study found drugs were a factor in one in five fatal accidents
Drug Driving – the law:
IT IS an offence in the UK to drive while "unfit through drugs", though proving impairment can be difficult.
While legislation provides the police with the power to use preliminary roadside drugs tests, A "drugalyser" device has yet to be approved by the Government, and, as a result, the police are currently unable to administer such tests, unlike alcohol, there is no legal limit.
Driving under the influence of drugs is instead treated in the same way as drink-driving prior to the introduction of the breathalyser in 1967.
If an officer suspects a driver to have taken drugs, they are able to conduct a Field Impairment Test. (FIT).
FIT Tests involve five exercises designed to reveal symptoms of drug taking. A driver's refusal to take a test is an offence.
The exercises are:
-A pupil dilation test and reaction to light
-Romberg Test, which involves the driver tilting their head back, closing their eyes and estimating the passage of 30 seconds
-Walking and turning test
-Raising a foot in the air six to eight inches off the ground while counting out loud, designed to test balance
-Touching finger to nose with eyes closed
It is not, however, possible to pass or fail any exercises within the FIT test.
If, through observation, a specially-trained officer believes a driver is unfit to operate a vehicle they can be arrested, taken to a police station and examined by a doctor, who can take a blood test.
If convicted, The penalties for drug-driving are the same as drink-driving and include a minimum 12-month driving ban, and a fine of up to £5,000.
Drug driving – the policies
ROADSIDE drugs tests have been extensively debated on, called for and researched over the past decade – but have yet to be introduced.
The Government did establish a number of pilot schemes testing devices at selected police stations, but nothing was officially approved.an official method has not been approved.
Progress appeared to have been made following a report, commissioned by the Labour Government and published last June by Sir Peter North, which called for more action to be taken to tackle drug-driving.
The leading academic's recommendations included efforts to make it easier for police to prosecute drug-drivers by allowing nurses and doctors to authorise blood tests of suspects. He also called for the approval and supply of preliminary drug testing devices.
The Government responded: "The prospect of an effective means of detecting and deterring drug-driving will – for the first time – allow a serious enforcement effort against this dangerous behaviour."
The Department for Transport then approved the use of preliminary drug-testing equipment, initially in police stations and at the roadside in the future.
Last month, the Government's Drugs (Roadside Testing) Bill, which would have introduced the "drugalyser" within 12 months, was dropped by crime and security minister James Brokenshire, who said the move was not necessary.