If you are caught drug driving, your options are to either plead guilty or not guilty. We strongly recommend that you speak to a driving offence solicitor before you make this decision. There are various defences available which could either reduce the penalty or see that the charges against you are dropped.
Driving offences solicitors London
If you have been caught drug driving, please contact us now at Ashmans Solicitors. We are highly experienced in defending drug driving charges and can secure a favourable outcome on your behalf. We are available to take your call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
What does it mean to be caught drug driving?
Drug driving can relate to both illegal drugs and legal drugs, including prescription/over-the-counter medication.
You cannot drive if you have taken a drug and it impairs your ability to drive. You also cannot drive if you have over the specified limits of certain drugs in your system. If you are caught driving and either of these apply, you will be charged with drug driving.
Drug driving – illegal drugs
Unlike alcohol, there is a zero-tolerance policy with regard to driving and illegal drugs. This means that even if a tiny trace of an illegal substance is found in your system, you could be accused of drug driving. This can create difficulties, as drugs typically remain in your bloodstream for several days after use.
However, the law does allow for ‘accidental exposure’. This is when an illegal drug such as cannabis enters your bloodstream due to passive smoking. That is why the legal limits have been set at just above zero. For example, the legal limit for cannabis is two microgrammes per litre of blood.
Drug driving – legal drugs
The rules are slightly different for legal drugs. Firstly, if you are caught driving with a prescription drug in your system, it must have been prescribed to you by a medical professional. If it was not intended for your use, you could be prosecuted.
Also, you must not drive if:
- A legal drug impairs your function, making you unfit to drive
- You have certain levels of drugs in your body
The law sets limits for certain drugs, including:
- Morphine or opiate/opioid-based drugs
If you are taking any of these drugs and you are found to have more than the legal limit in your bloodstream, then you could be charged with drug driving.
Drug drive limits are measured according to microgrammes per litre of blood. Of course, it is very hard to measure this for yourself. As a result, you might accidentally find yourself over the legal limit simply for taking a prescribed painkiller. Speak with motor solicitors and the sooner the better.
What should I do?
If you have been charged with a drug driving offence, please contact us at Ashmans Solicitors. You have two options open to you.
Either, you can plead guilty to the charge. Doing so will almost certainly mean that you receive a mandatory driving ban. Depending on the circumstances, this could range from a minimum of 12 months to a maximum of 36 months. You may also receive a fine and a community order. In the most serious cases, you could be imprisoned for up to six months. The driving endorsement will remain on your licence. Because you will be given a criminal record, you may experience difficulties securing future employment or travelling to certain countries. Your car insurance premiums will also increase.
Or, you can plead not guilty to the charge. You might think that you have no hope of succeeding at trial. However, it is always worth exploring this option. There are many defences available and these are not necessarily dependent on the test results. Indeed, if the police failed to follow the correct procedures, the case against you might not even make it to court.
Defending a drug-driving charge
A driving offence solicitor can analyse your case and determine the best defence. Each requires an in-depth knowledge of the law. That is why you must ask a solicitor who specialises in motoring offences to help you.
A significant number of drug driving cases are successfully defended on the grounds of procedural errors. The police must follow strict protocol at all times, including at the roadside and at the police station. We will assess exactly what happened when you were tested for drug driving. If there was any deviation from the rules, we will bring it to the prosecution’s attention immediately.
Once the prosecution is made aware of these errors, they might determine that the case against you cannot proceed. If so, your case goes no further. Even if there is a court hearing, we will argue that the correct processes were not followed, meaning the blood specimen cannot be used as evidence. This will severely undermine the prosecution’s case as it is unlikely that they have any other evidence to rely on.
Lack of proof
There are two different drug driving charges. You can either be charged with ‘driving while unfit through drugs’ or ‘driving with excess drugs’. The former charge is hard for police to prove as it depends on the results of a field impairment test. This is when you are asked to do things such as walk in a straight line and stand on one leg.
Field impairment tests are unreliable. Any ‘failings’ on your part could be attributed to any number of factors and are not necessarily an indication of drug impairment. Although a blood test may later reveal that you have drugs in your system, this is not sufficient evidence for the charge to stand up in court. You must have been impaired. If the prosecution cannot prove this, their case must fail.
Once a blood sample is taken, it will be outsourced to a laboratory for testing. The results of this test will determine whether your case proceeds to court. Just like the police must follow the correct protocol when testing you, these laboratories must also follow the correct processes when handling your blood sample.
We will assess the actions of the laboratory to check whether the sample can be relied upon. There was recently a large scandal in which a company called Randox falsified calibration checks on their testing equipment. Numerous drug driving convictions were overturned as a result, while others had their drug-driving prosecutions dropped. As this goes to show, it is necessary to scrutinise the integrity of the evidence.
Along with the defences described above, there are other legal and technical defences that can work to your advantage. For example, it could be argued that you:
- Were not driving the vehicle – for the charge to be upheld, you must have been driving or in charge of the vehicle.
- Were not on public land – the law only relates to those caught drug driving on public land. If you were on private property, you will have a defence.
- Had taken a drug not covered by the law – the law only has legal limits for 17 controlled substances. If you are found with a different drug in your system, it may not actually be covered by the legislation
- Have a medical defence – if you were prescribed a drug by a medical professional and took it in accordance with the instructions given, you may not fall foul of the law, if you were not advised that you could not drive.
Pleading special reasons
Your other option is to plead special reasons. This means that you accept that you are guilty of drug driving, but you only did so due to exceptional circumstances. This might have been a medical emergency or to flee from danger.
Get expert legal advice from our London solicitors
Even if you feel you have no chance of successfully defending a drug drive charge, we urge you to contact our motor offence solicitors. We can examine every detail of your case to see whether there is a way forward.
It does not necessarily matter if your drug test result was positive – there maybe have been a procedural error, or you may have a legal or technical defence. If so, the charges must be dropped. This will be a huge relief, as the consequences of a drug-driving charge a potentially very serious.
Make an enquiry
If you have been caught drug driving, call us on 0333 009 6275. We are available to take your call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.