Six months after the launch of a specialist new team the Roads Policing Unit is hailing its success.

Seventy-nine drug-drivers have been taken off the roads of Hampshire and Isle of Wight, thanks to the Impaired Driver Unit, the first in the country.

With drug-driving an increasing problem, the RPU took an unprecedented step last November and created a dedicated unit in a bid to drive home the message that putting other people's lives in danger by driving whilst under the influence of drugs will not be tolerated.

Modelled on similar units in the USA, the unit takes part in operations, as well as training and providing expert advice to over 200 officers in how to detect the signs and symptoms that someone has taken drugs.

Since November, 2004, 268 drivers have undergone FIT tests carried out by specially-trained RPU officers: 79 of these tested positively and were subsequently arrested.

Supt Mark Bradford, head of the RPU, said: "In the last six months, we have significantly increased the number of Field Impairment Tests conducted by our staff. This sends out a strong message to those who are driving whilst under the influence of drugs.

"The unit will continue to develop the constabulary's response and we all look forward to the day drug-driving is regarded to be as socially unacceptable as drink-driving"

The unit will continue to target drug-drivers as part of the Safer Roads campaign. It is hoped the measures will reduce the number of people killed or injured on roads across Hampshire and IoW.