The relatively new offence of drug driving is defined as follows:
“Driving or being in charge of a motor vehicle with concentration of specified controlled drug above specified level.”
It is now illegal to drive if either:
- You are unfit to do so because you are on legal or illegal drugs;
- You have certain levels of illegal drugs in your blood (even if they have not affected your driving).
In the first year alone it has been reported by 35 of the 43 police forces in England and Wales that nearly 8000 people were arrested on suspicion of the offence.
There are currently 16 drugs listed in the Act for which levels have been set based on figures from a panel of experts.
Should a person have one of those drugs in their system above the prescribed limit they will be charged with the offence.
If you are stopped at the roadside and the police suspect you are under the influence of drugs they are able to make you take a field impairment assessment by, for example, asking you to walk in a straight line.
The police also have roadside drug testing kits which screen saliva for cannabis and cocaine. If the test is positive you will be arrested and taken to a police station.
At the police station you will be requested to provide a blood sample for analysis. If you refuse, without good reason, consideration will be given to charging you with “failing to provide.”
If you have a genuine reason not to supply a blood sample, or the level of drugs does not exceed the prescribed limit, a charge of drug driving cannot be pursued. However, the prosecution could consider an alternative charge of “Driving whilst unfit.”
There is a statutory defence if it can be shown that the drugs had been prescribed and the driver had adhered to the advice of the person by whom the drug was prescribed or supplied.
If this defence is raised and supported with evidence it is for the prosecution to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the defence is not satisfied.
Blood samples must be taken, stored, packaged and transported to the laboratory correctly. The importance of this can be shown where cannabinoids are involved as the breakdown of the drug is very fast. Two samples of blood are taken. The second sample is yours. If necessary, this sample can be obtained and tested by an independent defence expert.
If you are convicted of drug driving the penalties are as follows:
- A minimum 1 year driving disqualification;
- An unlimited fine;
- Up to 6 months imprisonment.
You must also consider ancillary issues such as:
- You will have a criminal record;
- Your driving licence will show you have been convicted for drug driving and will last for 11 years.
- Your car insurance costs will increase;
- It may impact your work;
- You may have trouble travelling to other countries.
How Kangs Solicitors Can Help
Kangs Solicitors have a dedicated team which is experienced in representing defendants in motoring matters.
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.
If you are charged with any of the offences outlined above, Kangs Solicitors will scrutinize the prosecution evidence and all available avenues for your defence will be explored.
Should you plead guilty to the offence, Kangs Solicitors will present your mitigation with a view to limiting the sentence passed by the Court.
For expert advice regarding this offence please contact our team of solicitors which has a proven track-record in defending clients on motoring matters.