Section 56 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013 inserted s.5A into the Road Traffic Act 1988 making it an offence to drive with a blood concentration in excess of a specified limit for a specified controlled drug.
On the 2 March 2015, new legislation came into force making it illegal to drive with certain levels of drugs in your system. Section 56 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013 inserted s.5A into the Road Traffic Act 1988 making it an offence to drive with a blood concentration in excess of a specified limit for a specified controlled drug.
Convicting someone of “drug-driving” is now going to be a lot easier.
A medical practitioner will perform a simple blood test at the police station to test if you are above the limit.
*** See latest news about the validity of tested blood samples here. If you think that you have been convicted or pleaded guilty to a drug driving related offence and that your blood sample was tested by Randox on behalf of the police then you may have an argument to reopen your case and set aside your conviction/disqualification.***
Drug driving sentencing guidelines are set out in the table below.
According to mirror.co.uk and other news websites, around 400 drivers are being arrested each month.
If you are charged then what? You will be going to Court.
Keep your blood sample refrigerated and call Patterson Law.
If you are sentenced, there are, unfortunately, no sentencing guidelines in relation to driving whilst unfit through drugs and the Magistrates’ currently appear to be taking the route of using the existing guidelines for driving with excess alcohol when sentencing.
In our opinion this is wrong and a case we had in Court recently illustrates why:
Mr X was charged with driving whilst unfit through drugs. Benzoylecgonine was found in his system at a level of 465ug. The legal limit is 50ug. MDMA was also present at a level of 49ug. The legal limit is 10ug. Mr X was 10 times over the legal limit for benzoylecgonine and nearly five times for MDMA.
Had the Magistrates’ applied the guidelines for driving with excess alcohol then Mr X would have most certainly received a lengthy custodial sentence and disqualification of more than three years.
Mr X is not a habitual drug user and he had consumed a large amount of cocaine on a Friday night and a small amount on Saturday night. He was stopped by police and tested on Sunday morning. Mr X maintains he was not impaired. He would not have driven if he were.
There was no evidence of impairment in the officer’s statement. Had he been ten times over the drink drive limit he would have given a breath reading of 350ug.
On consulting experts we were advised that Benzoylecgonine is the derivative of cocaine that remains in your system for a long time after the effects of cocaine wear off.
It would not impair someone’s ability to the drive to the extent that being 10 times over the drink drive limit would…far from it.
From the figures above it is clear to us that the Magistrates’ should not apply the same guidelines when sentencing. How can they put Mr X in the same bracket as someone who has given a breath reading of 350ug?
The officer that stopped him did not note any evidence of impairment and therefore we were able to argue that Mr X should be disqualified from driving only. Mr X was disqualified for 18 months.
We can help if you are stopped by the police on suspicion of a drug drive offence.
It seems a huge proportion of drivers who are stopped do have illegal substances in their system.
It used to be the case that the police could only charge you with driving whilst under the influence of drugs.
The new limit is designed to create a zero tolerance situation.
As with any piece of new legislation we are going through a phase of testing the law.
We are finding that the police are often making procedural mistakes in relation to taking mouth swabs/blood samples at the station.
This will often create the potential to defend the allegation.
There is also an opportunity to avoid disqualification by arguing special reasons, especially in relation to prescribed drugs.
Most people we speak to are unfamiliar with the legislation/police procedures.
You will often not realise that you have a potential defence/special reasons argument to avoid disqualification.
We need to speak to you in each and every case to assess your prospects of success.
As with any case we take on we like to go through the evidence with a fine tooth comb. We often obtain the forms that the police fellow at the station including your custody records and any statement from a force medical practitioner.
We will also often ask for the CCTV of the custody centre to see what was said to you by the officer in the case/custody sergeant. Clients have also reported that they are finding it extremely difficult to locate a pharmacologist / chemist with the necessary accreditation to get their own blood sample tested.
When the police take a blood sample they divide it into two portions. You have the option to take your own sample and get it tested independently. At the moment we are struggling to locate any chemists / pharmacologist who are credited and willing to carry out these reports on behalf of defendants.
This may well amount to an abuse of process because it denies the defendant the opportunity to have the sample double checked. Again this is a growing area of law and things are changing rapidly. It does seem that the legislation has been brought in without actually putting the necessary infrastructure in place and without a huge amount of training for the police.
We have one client at the moment who was taken to 4 different police stations in order to find a medical practitioner who could take the necessary blood test.
|‘Illegal’ drugs (‘accidental exposure’ – zero tolerance approach)||Threshold limit in blood|
|benzoylecgonine (ecgonine benzoate)[main metabolite of cocaine]||50µg/L|
|lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD)||1µg/L|
|methylamphetamine (Crystal Meth)||10µg/L|
|‘Medicinal’ drugs (risk based approach)||Threshold limit in blood|
|amphetamine (regulations were recently laid with the proposed limit and expected to come into force after 2 March 2015)||250µg/L|
If you want to know more about the impact each of these drugs has on your driving, please click here
The time required for each type of drug to leave your system varies greatly depending upon several factors including the amount and specific type of exact drug consumed, how it is taken, the biological makeup of the user and consumption of other substances (such as alcohol) at the same time.
The government has intentionally not provided any guidance for drug detection times. While absorption rate will vary greatly from person to person due to your height, weight and metabolic rate, approximate times needed for your body to flush each drug type are indicated below.
|Typical Time Limits for Commonly Used Drugs|
|Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannibinol - Cannabis||48 - 72 hours (Up To 10 Weeks for Chronic Users|
|Cocaine||12 - 72 Hours|
|Methylenedioxymethamphetamine - MDMA||24 - 96 Hours|
|6-Monoacetylmorphine - Heroin||48 - 120 Hours|
|Ketamine||48 - 96 Hours|
|Lysergic Acid Diethylamide - LSD||24 - 72 Hours|
|Methylamphetamine - Crystal Meth||24 - 96 Hours|
Other illegal and legal drugs are tested using a variety of impairment tests which include; assessing pupil dilation, standing on one leg, walk and turn, finger to nose and balance & judgement tests (Romberg test). If you are deemed to have failed one or more of these roadside impairment tests, you will be taken to a police station to be blood tested.
There is a lot of confusion at the moment with regard to drug drive offences and sentencing, leaving many drivers at risk of excessive punishments.
We have helped many drivers facing these offence allegations, and we can help you……
Please call us and talk to us if you are caught drug driving. Don't just throw in the towel. It's a free advice call. You have nothing to lose.
I wanted to thank you for all the good and diligent work you have done on my behalf. I am very pleased with the final outcome of my court case and most satisfied with the level of service you provided.
Dear Louise, I would like to express deep appreciation for all the work and effort you've put into my case and for ultimately getting me the decision that I wanted. Your professionalism, ease to communicate with, understanding of my problem and successful result are all testimony to your excellent legal services. I would recommend anybody with a Road Traffic Offence matter to your use your firm as they can be assured of an excellent and thorough service. Thanks again.
Having Googled for a solicitor who had expertise in the area of my alleged offence I found your firm and I have to say it I am so glad I contacted you. From the first phone call the attitude from your office was positive and informative. Once I instructed your firm officially I immediately felt that my case was at last being handled by someone who actually had an interest and knowledge and wanted to provide an exceptional service. All in all a positive experience. My thanks to all who had dealings with my case and especially to Louise for the expediency with which she dealt with the case saving me many sleepless nights. Very professional, honest from the outcome, didn't raise my hopes at getting case discharged at all. Very well done.
It is extremely rare to do a web search and stumble across a firm of any profession, and actually receive a first rate service, but that’s what’s happened in this instance. My hesitation was doubled by the fact they are located 200 miles away from me. From my initial contact through the web site, the call back was very, very fast, and the conversation put you in no doubt you were in safe hands. The contact with the secretaries was fast and efficient. The information from both the Principle Solicitor Emma Patterson and the Solicitor and Senior Case Progression Officer Louise Kippax was professional, useful, thorough and pragmatic. I wish more people in all professional services sector were as down to earth, and say it like it is! Overall, I would have no hesitation in recommending this firm. Thank you!
Great Response, Great Advice, Great Service and … Great Result – Thanks.