Sentencing Council Issues Guidance For Sentencing Drug Drivers

The Sentencing Council has recently issued guidance, (‘the sentencing guidance’), in relation to the relatively new offence of drug driving.

It should be noted from the outset that the sentencing guidance does not have the same authority as Sentencing Guidelines and the Courts need not follow the guidance.

It is anticipated, however, that the Courts will find the sentencing guidance of assistance when offenders are brought before the Courts.

It is anticipated that the Sentencing Council will, in due course, produce binding Sentencing Guidelines for Courts.

The Law | Drug Driving

The Road Traffic Act 1988 now makes it an offence to drive, attempt to drive or be in charge of a motor vehicle with a concentration of a specified controlled drug in the body above the specified limit.

The full list of specified controlled drugs (and their limits) can be found in the Drug Driving (Specified Limits) (England and Wales) Regulations 2014.

Drug Driving | Sentencing Guidance | Kangs Road Traffic Department

Given Parliament’s clear indication of the seriousness of drug driving, the legislation imposes a number of penalties including disqualification, fines and imprisonment.

Driving or Attempting to Drive

The sentencing guidance makes clear that where there are no factors that increase the seriousness of this particular offence, the Court should consider a starting point of a Band C fine and a disqualification in the region of 12 – 22 months.

Although not an exhaustive list, the sentencing guidance provides that the following factors may increase the seriousness of the offending:

  • Evidence of another specified drug or alcohol in the body
  • Evidence of an unacceptable standard of driving
  • Driving, (or being in charge of), an LGV, HGV or PSV
  • Driving, (or being in charge of), a vehicle driven for hire or reward

Where there are factors that increase the seriousness, the Court should consider increasing the sentence on the basis of the level of seriousness.

The Community Order threshold is likely to be crossed where there is evidence of one or more factors that increase seriousness. For this level of seriousness, the Court should also consider imposing a disqualification in the region of 23 – 28 months.

The Custody threshold is likely to be crossed where there is evidence of one or more factors that increases the seriousness and one or more aggravating factors are present. The sentencing guidance sets out a number of aggravating factors and includes:

  • Previous convictions, having regard to the nature of those offences and the time that has elapsed
  • High risk locations such as near a school
  • Carrying passengers
  • High level of traffic or pedestrians in the vicinity
  • Poor road or weather conditions

For this level of seriousness, the Court should also consider imposing a disqualification in the region of 29 – 36 months.

Being In Charge of a Motor Vehicle | Kangs Motoring Team

Being in charge of a motor vehicle whilst over the limit of one of the specified drugs is clearly not as serious as driving or attempting to drive and this is reflected in the sentencing guidance.

Where there are no factors that increase the seriousness of this particular offence, the Court should consider a starting point of a Band B fine and endorsing your  a driving licence with 10 penalty points.

The list of factors increasing the seriousness is the same as above.

Where there are factors that increase the seriousness, the Court should consider increasing the sentence on the basis of the level of seriousness.

The Community Order threshold is likely to be crossed where there is evidence of one or more factors that increase the seriousness and one or more aggravating features. For this level of seriousness, the Court should also consider imposing a disqualification. Again, the aggravating factors are the same as listed above.

The Custody threshold is likely to be crossed where there is evidence of one or more factors that increases the seriousness and a greater number of aggravating factors. The sentencing guidance indicates that the Court may want to consider imposing a short custodial sentence of up to 12 weeks.

Road Traffic Defence | How Kangs Solicitors can help you

Kangs Solicitors has a dedicated team which is experienced in representing defendants in all motoring matters and, in particular, offences relating to drug driving.

If you are arrested on suspicion of drug driving, you can make contact with us from the police station by asking the custody sergeant to phone our emergency number which is contactable 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

For expert advice regarding this offence, please contact out team of experienced Solicitors who have a proven track record in defending clients charged with these types of offences.

Contact:

Sukhdip Randhawa
srandhawa@kangssolicitors.co.uk
0121 449 9888 | 020 7936 6396 | 07989 521 210 (24hr Emergency Number)