• Drug Driving

Drug driving is a relatively new offence that many people are only just starting to become aware of. There are two offences under s56 Crime and Courts Act 2013 (which inserted s5A into the Road Traffic Act 1988).

Firstly, there is “Driving or attempting to drive with a concentration of a specified controlled drug above the specified limit” which carries an obligatory disqualification and 3-11 penalty points. Secondly, there is “Being in charge with concentration of specified controlled drug above specified limit” which carries a discretionary disqualification and 10 penalty points if not disqualified.

There is a zero tolerance approach to eight drugs most associated with ‘street’ drug use. This means that you can have very low levels of illegal drugs in your system and still commit the offence, regardless of whether or not your ability to drive has been affected. However, a road safety risk approach is taken for drugs most commonly associated with medicinal uses, meaning there is a lot more leeway if you are taking a prescribed drug – provided you are taking it correctly. A separate approach to amphetamine is taken that provides a balance between its medical use and it being abused for recreational use.

The eight drugs most associated with illegal drug use are:

  • Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD)
  • Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA)
  • Methylamphetamine (Crystal Meth)
  • 6-monoacetylmorphine (Heroin)
  • Ketamine
  • Benzoylecgonine (main metabolite of cocaine)
  • Cocaine
  • Delta-9-tetrahydrocannibinol (cannabis)

Do note that the threshold for the above drugs is low but equally it is set at a level that rules out claims of accidental exposure.

The eight over-the-counter/prescription drugs that have a limit that cannot be exceeded are:

  • Clonazepam
  • Morphine
  • Lorazepam
  • Flunitrazepam
  • Oxazepam
  • Diazepam
  • Methadone
  • Temazepam

The threshold limit for the above drugs is set to just over the normal prescribed dosage level. If you are unsure about how a prescribed drug may impact your driving then you should contact your GP or pharmacist. What you are told by a health professional and what the leaflet says about taking the drug could affect whether or not you can defend a drug drive charge.

Key stages for a guilty plea

We will meet with you, consider the evidence and advise on the likely sentence and then represent you at court. We will then discuss the outcome with you after the case.
The fee will not include obtaining expert or other witness statements to assist your case, advice and assistance on a special reasons or exceptional hardship hearing or advice on an appeal.

How much will it cost?

Costs will vary depending upon the circumstances of your case but typically the fees will range from £650 to £1,000 + VAT depending on the circumstances and where the case will be heard and we will discuss this with you when you first come to see us.

Timescales will again depend on the facts of the case and when your case is listed with the court. Typically it will take between 2 and 6 months to complete dependent upon when the case is listed by the court.
You should be aware that legal aid is not generally available for motoring offences, unless they are of the more serious kind. We can advise you on whether you may be eligible when we first meet.

  • The penalties for drug driving are severe:

    A minimum one year driving ban
    Unlimited fine
    Up to six months imprisonment
    Your driving licence will be endorsed with the conviction of drug-driving for eleven years

  • A conviction will also:

    Significantly increase insurance costs
    Exclude you from certain jobs if you are required to drive
    Make it more difficult for you to travel to certain countries, such as the USA

Call now if you are unsure how to plead to this charge, we will be happy to help.

For more information about how we could help you, please get in touch below.