What you need to know about drug driving
Much like driving under the influence of alcohol, any motorist who is found behind the wheel whilst unfit through drugs can face severe penalties. This allegation can be brought if the police have reason to believe that an individual has driven a vehicle on a road or public place after consuming drugs. This applies to substances that are legal as well as illegal. To secure a conviction, the Court must prove that a person was unfit to drive through drugs and that their driving was impaired. If successful, this can lead to a heavy fine, disqualification from driving, increased insurance premiums and even a custodial sentence or community order.
For motorists who rely on their vehicle for their job, a disqualification from driving can lead to a loss of earnings and have far reaching implications on their livelihood. Many drivers who are stopped by the police and charged with drug driving are likely to accept their fate and conclude that they may be guilty of the offence. However, every individual case is different and drivers need not accept their guilt without challenge.
The law defines a drug as being an intoxicant other than alcohol. A substance is classed as a drug if it is neither food or drink and has affected the control of your body. Drugs that can be bought over the counter or on prescription often have side effects such as drowsiness, dizziness and impaired judgement which can affect a motorist’s ability to drive a vehicle. If you have been charged with driving under the influence of drugs and choose not to challenge the charge, then you will be forced to accept the penalty handed to you by the court.
Penalties for drug driving
Following a conviction for drug driving, the Court must impose a disqualification form driving for a minimum period of 12 months. This is mandatory unless a special reason is presented. The Court will also issue a fine of up to £5000, In addition, and depending on the circumstances, the court could impose the following penalties:
- Up to six months in prison
- Community order
- Extended retest
Furthermore, any driver who has previously been convicted of the offence in the last ten years could be disqualified from driving for up to 36 months.
Sentencing guidelines for drug driving
In March 2015, new legislation came into force making it illegal to drive with certain levels of drugs in your system. Under the new legislation it is now an offence to drive with a blood concentration in excess of a specified limit for a specified controlled drug. The starting point for sentencing guidelines on first time offenders pleading not guilty are as follows:
- Evidence of moderate level of impairment and no aggravating factors – Band C fine and disqualification from driving from 12-16 months
- Evidence of moderate level of impairment and presence of one or more aggravating factors -Band C fine and disqualification from driving for 17-22 months
- Evidence of high level of impairment and no aggravating factors – medium level community order ranging to low level community order to high level community order and disqualification from driving from 23-28 months
- Evidence of high level of impairment and presence of one or more aggravating factors – 12 weeks’ custody ranging to high level community order to 26 weeks’ custody and disqualification from driving from 29-36 months
Defending a drug driving offence
Much like drink driving allegations, there is a perception that, unless you can identify an obvious and immediate issue, such as that you were not driving the vehicle, or you did use a drug but that was after the incident of driving, then you will have no alternative but to plead guilty to this offence. However, this is not always the true. Every case is different and the law is complex. If you have been charged with drug driving, all is not lost. As specialists in defending drivers charged with motoring offences, we know the law inside out.
As with any case, we will examine the evidence with a fine tooth comb. From looking at custody reports and CCTV footage of the custody centre, we will review the evidence that the CPS has against you and provide you with our full advice on the prospects of your case. Once you have received our advice, you can make an informed decision on whether or not to defend the allegation or accept the penalty. The initial investigation is what has led to the majority of our clients successfully defending their case and we will do everything in our power to reach the same outcome for you. Furthermore, if you choose to defend the charges, you can continue driving for as long as the proceedings are ongoing.
Contact PDA Law
As motoring offence specialists, we have a wealth of experience in successfully defending drug driving offences and can offer you access to the best legal support obtainable. We also offer a free, no obligation meeting, as well as a no win, no fee service where appropriate. Therefore, you can proceed with no financial risk throughout the process.
To receive tailored advice from our expert driving offence solicitors, contact PDA Law today by calling 01244 373373. Alternatively, fill out our online contact form and we will call you back at a time that is convenient for you.