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Prosecutions for drug driving offences continue to increase

Prosecutions for drug driving offences continue to increase

Convictions for drug driving offences have tripled over the last two year. Figures released by the DVLA reveal that nearly 20,000 motorists were convicted over the period January 2018 to March 2019. This upwards trend is showing no signs of abating and has been denounced as an epidemic by many news reports.

The police are continuing to take a zero-tolerance approach for drivers that are caught with illegal substances such as cannabis, cocaine and heroin in their system. It is not just illegal substances that can see you apprehended though.

What is Drug driving?

There are two types of offence for which you could be charged:

  1. Driving or attempting to drive while unfit through drugs.
  2. Driving, or attempting to drive, with a level of drugs above the specified limit. This could be legal as well as illegal drugs.

How do the police test for drug driving?

The police can carry out a Field Impairment test (FIT), that includes seeing if you can walk in a straight line. In addition, they now use a roadside screening device, which tests for the presence of cannabis and cocaine. The police can carry out further screening for other drugs at the police station.

Failure to cooperate with police in carrying out a test to assess whether you are under the influence of drugs will usually lead to your arrest. Even if you pass a roadside test, the police may still arrest you is they suspect that your driving has been impaired by drugs.

Limits have been set for a range of illegal substances and for legal ones too. The limits are very low so that even trace amounts can lead to prosecution; they also do not provide any indication of how these affect the driver’s ability to drive.

The need to act quickly

We cannot stress how important it is to take immediate action. The new drug driving limits are very complicated. Please remember that you can still be found guilty even if you did not intend to be over the limit. Make sure you take legal advice at the earliest opportunity by contacting one of our specialist defence team on 01895 449288.

Keep a record of your experience with the police. Note exactly what action was taken and when, so that we can assess whether the correct procedures have been followed. Please be aware that some police forces still do not have the drug kits required for roadside use, or have not been trained properly in their use. Equally, the blood test analytical data is lengthy and complex, so a good legal defence is essential.

What are the penalties for drug driving?

The penalties are the same as for drink driving. If you are convicted you could face:

  • Disqualification from driving starting at 12 months (rising to 36 months for a second offence within a 10-year period)
  • An unlimited fine
  • Unpaid community work
  • Imprisonment of up to 6 months
  • A criminal record
  • An endorsement on your driving license lasting 11 years

Further consequences

More than that, the consequences of a drug drive conviction on your life and that of your loved ones could be severe:

  • You could lose your job
  • Face the shame of having a criminal conviction
  • Have trouble travelling to certain countries such as the USA
  • Lose your independence
  • Face increased insurance costs

Call Wells Burcombe’s defence experts

If you have been accused of drug driving, contact us immediately for a free initial consultation. We have offices in St Albans, Hertfordshire and West Drayton, London and cover all surrounding areas. Call now on 01895 449288.

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