The number of under the influence driving incidents in Scotland has increased by almost 50% in recent years but convictions for the crime have dropped, figures show.
The Scottish Government figures show the number of offences related to drink/drug-driving rose from 5,218 to 7,773 in seven years.
This is an increase of 49%, however, in the same period, the number of drivers being convicted for these offences fell from 3,681 to 2,185 – a decrease of 40%.
The figures were released by the Scottish Conservatives, after being obtained from justice secretary Keith Brown.
Tory justice spokesman Jamie Greene said the diverging figures were a result of the Scottish Government’s “mismanagement of the justice system”.
He said: “It’s appalling that more and more people are willing to risk their own lives – and more importantly those of others – by drink or drug-driving.
“It’s equally unacceptable that as the number of offences is rising rapidly, the number of convictions is plummeting.
“This suggests that the huge backlog of cases in Scotland’s courts, as well as reduced police numbers – both of which stem in large part from SNP budget cuts – are delaying or preventing criminals being brought to justice.
“In turn, this sends out a dreadful message to the public that these offences are not treated seriously by the authorities. It’s another glaring example of the SNP’s soft-touch approach to justice in action.
“Ministers must reverse their damaging budget cuts to ensure that our police and courts system have the resources to operate effectively, administer justice and provide a deterrent against drink and drug-driving.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Scotland now has a higher number of officers than there were in 2007– and more per head of population than England and Wales. We fully support the efforts of law enforcement such as Police Scotland and the Scottish Police Authority in tackling the scourge of drink and drug driving, to help make Scotland’s roads safer.
“Whilst the criminal courts have been impacted by the pandemic, including drink and drug driving cases, progress is being made in tackling the backlog – with a 12,000 reduction in the number of outstanding trials between January and the end of October 2022.
“Our message to the persistent minority of drivers who continue to ignore the law and drink alcohol or take drugs before driving is clear; to drive while under the influence of drink or drugs is utterly unacceptable and will ruin lives.“