Hadi Law

Most people know that being caught driving after taking illegal drugs is a criminal offence. But some prescribed drugs also negatively affect your ability to drive safely. Being charged with drug driving can be incredibly frightening, especially if you have never been in trouble with the law before. It is important to remember that you do not need to face the situation alone. An experienced Drug Driving Solicitor can provide you with the legal advice and representation you need to either have criminal charges dropped before your court date or be found not guilty. Even if you are convicted of driving under the influence of restricted drugs, a Solicitor can provide submissions to the Court with the aim of reducing the sentence handed down.

Why is it an Offence to Drive Under the Influence of Certain Drugs?

Many illegal and legal drugs can have a negative affect on your ability to operate a vehicle safely. In the short term, drugs often alter neurotransmitter activity in the brain, leading to changes in temperament, awareness, and performance. For example, your reaction times will not be as quick if you have taken certain drugs such as cannabis or depressants, such as opioids and benzodiazepines which slow down neural activity, resulting in relaxation or sedation. Drugs that are defined as stimulants, such as cocaine or methamphetamine, increase the release of dopamine, creating intense feelings of euphoria, increased energy, and alertness. This can lead to you taking risks when driving that you would never attempt under ordinary circumstances.

What is the Law Around Drugs and Driving?

The Drug Driving (Specified Limits) Regulations 2014 establish restrictions on eight controlled substances and eight prescription medications in England and Wales. When it comes to driving under the influence of illegal drugs, it does not matter whether the substance negatively affects your driving ability. Simply possessing illegal drugs is a criminal offence. Therefore, a strict zero-tolerance policy is applied to illegal drugs, resulting in exceptionally low permissible levels for driving. Only a smidgeon of leeway is available to allow for unintentional exposure.
‘Illegal’ drug driving limits   Threshold limit in microgrammes per litre of blood (µg/L)  
Benzoylecgonine   50µg/L  
Cocaine   10µg/L  
delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (cannabis)   2µg/L  
Ketamine   20µg/L  
lysergic acid diethylamide   1µg/L  
Methylamphetamine   10µg/L  
Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA)   10µg/L  
6-monoacetylmorphine (heroin)   5µg/L  

Prescribed Drugs

Certain prescription medications can affect your ability to drive safely. The Drug Driving (Specified Limits) Regulations 2014; therefore, sets strict thresholds for the allowable concentration of the drug in a driver’s bloodstream. Top of Form
Prescription drug driving limits   Threshold limit in blood  
Clonazepam   50µg/L  
Diazepam   550µg/L  
Flunitrazepam   300µg/L  
Lorazepam   100µg/L  
Methadone   500µg/L  
Morphine   80µg/L  
Oxazepam   300µg/L  
Temazepam   1,000µg/L  
Separate approach (to balance its risk) Threshold limit in blood  
Amphetamine 250µg/L  

What Happens if I am Caught Drug Driving?

If the police have reason to stop you or you are involved in an RTA and the police are called to the scene, you may be asked to undergo a Field Impairment Assessment (FIA). This involves walking in a straight line, balancing on one leg, or touching your nose. An FIA test is far from reliable when it comes to establishing whether someone is driving under the influence of drugs, so failing it will not result in you being immediately arrested. However, not passing an FIA will alert police that something may be wrong. In all probability, you will be asked to provide a saliva sample for roadside screening, in which checks can be made for cocaine and cannabis. If the police suspect you have taken drugs and are over the prescribed limit for driving, or you fail the roadside screening test, you will be taken to the nearest police station. Here, you will be asked to provide a blood sample. You cannot refuse to provide a sample without a reasonable excuse. If you do not want to provide a blood specimen, you should contact a Motoring Offences Solicitor and ask them to come to the police station to advise and represent you because the police can charge you with failure to provide a specimen. If you are subsequently convicted of drug driving, the Court can sentence you to a 12-month driving disqualification, a fine of up to £5,000, and/or community service. After the sample is taken, it should be divided, with half given to you for independent testing.

What will Happen to Me If I am Convicted of Drug Driving?

The criminal penalties for drug driving include:
  • A minimum driving disqualification of 12 months.
  • An unlimited fine.
  • Up to six months in prison.
  • A criminal record.
A note will be placed on your driving licence lasting 11 years stating that you have been convicted of drug driving. If you are in possession of illegal drugs when you are stopped by the police, you may face additional criminal charges.

Concluding Comments

If you have been charged with drug driving, it is crucial to instruct an experienced Motor Offences Solicitor advise and represent you. They have the expertise and experience required to present your case to the Judge or Magistrate/s in a professional, prepared, and persuasive way. For further information on drug driving, please speak to our motoring offences law team on 01772 447000 or reach out to us on our seven-day-a-week WhatsApp helpline on 07869760533.

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