Drug Driving Offences

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Drug Driving Offences

There has been a huge recent increase in the number of police prosecutions against drivers alleged to be guilty of driving whilst unfit because of drug use.

Section 4 subsection 1 of The Road Traffic Act 1988 provides that a person who, when driving or attempting to drive a mechanically propelled vehicle on road or other public place, is unfit to drive through drink or drugs is guilty of an offence.  This can also apply to people who are under the influence of drugs whilst, although not actually driving the vehicle, are technically in charge of it.  This covers situations where a person may be parked up in a stationary motor car whilst allegedly under the influence of drugs.  

Common Scenarios for Drug Driving Offences

A common scenario which we very often end up dealing with is where a person has been driving a motor car and stopped by the police.  When the police officer speaks to the driver of the motor car there may be certain factors, such as the smell of cannabis within a vehicle, which causes the police officer to suspect that the driver of the vehicle is unfit to drive because of the use of drugs.

Drug Driving Offence Conviction

It is very important to note that before a person can convicted of the offence of drug driving, the police have to prove that the individuals ability to drive the car properly at the material time is being impaired.  

Obviously the standard of driving will be relevant in the case like this.  Before a person can be convicted of the offence of drug driving the Court will need to be satisfied from either the facts of the case, for example if the driver had collided with other vehicles or property etc. or drug imparement test had been carried out by a medical practitioner to show that the person could well have been impared.

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Drug Driving Offence Prosecution

In relation to a drug driving prosecution, the police will take a blood or urine sample.  This will then be sent for a drug analysis.  A forensic scientist will examine the sample and provide a report to give an indication to what drugs are found within the blood or urine sample and what levels they are at.  It is open to the forensic scientist to provide an opinion to whether or not the readings would normally cause a person to be impared because of drugs.  In a drug driving prosecution, however, it is always possible to question the evidence of the forensic scientist because the effect of different drugs upon different people can vary widely.

If the prosecution are to successfully prosecute an individual for driving whilst unfit through drugs they will therefore not just need the forensic report regarding the blood/urine sample, but the police will also need additional evidence to support this.  Certain police officers are qualified to carry out a roadside preliminary imparement test.  There is only a limited number of officers who are qualified at this.  A person may well find themselves arrested on suspicion of drug driving and taken back to the police station where a police doctor will carry out a series of drug imparement tests. These are standard tests and involve certain basic question and answers together with basic tests such as standing on one leg and other balance related tasks.

Experience tells us that even the most basic tasks which are required to be carried out within the confines of a police station when an individual can be experiencing a considerable degree of anxiety, can be very difficult to carry out. 

Drug Driving Offence Defence

We have defended in a significant number of prosecutions in relation to drug driving offences with a high degree of success.  The prosecution will regularly seek to convince a Court that simply because a person has traces of a drug within their system, then they must automatically be unfit to drive a motor vehicle.  Experience tells us that this is not necessarily the case. 

Even when faced with strong forensic evidence and even that from the police surgeon, when the evidence is tested in detail in the Magistrates Court it is still possible for a person to be acquitted of the offence of drug driving if the Court is not satisfied that the person was impared from properly driving the vehicle at the time in question. 

Not all prosecution for drug driving arise from the use of well known drugs such as cocaine and cannabis.  There are certain circumstances when an individual will have an adverse reaction to prescription drugs which could not have been foreseen. Very often this will lead to a police prosecution for driving whilst unfit through drugs.  If the Court can be satisfied that the reaction was completely unforeseen and could not have been predicted by the individual, then it may be possible for that individual to avoid a driving disqualification as a result of the offence.

Drug Driving Offence Penalties

If a person is convicted of an offence of driving or attempting to drive a motor vehicle whilst unfit through drugs, the Court must impose an obligatory driving disqualification of at least 12 months.  It is also possible for the Court to impose a period of imprisonment of 6 months or alternatively a financial penalty.  

If a person is found guilty of being in charge of a motor vehicle whilst unfit through drugs the Court then has the discretion as to whether or not to impose a driving ban.  The Court can also consider the imposition of a financial penalty or a period of imprisonment not exceeding 3 months.

Contact us about Drug Driving Offences

For more information regarding Drug Driving Offences then please contact us on 0800 032 5930 or email us at .


FAQ - What can be used as evidence for drug driving?

In relation to a drug driving prosecution, the police will take a blood or urine sample. This will then be sent for a drug analysis. A forensic scientist will examine the sample and provide a report to give an indication to what drugs are found within the blood or urine sample and what levels they are at. It is open to the forensic scientist to provide an opinion to whether or not the readings would normally cause a person to be impaired because of drugs. Contact us for more information


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Careless Driving

The careless driving offence actually has a very wide definition.  The driver does not have to be driving a motor vehicle but any mechanically propelled vehicle and the careless driving offence can take place not only on public roads but any other place to which the public has access.  As dedicated traffic lawyers we will not shy away from questioning, exposing and exploiting any weakness in a prosecution case against any of our clients who face an allegation of careless driving.

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Drink Driving

Robert Bimpson is wildly acknowledged to be an expert in the defence of drink driving charges. He has been dedicated to the defence of clients since 1989 and his wealth of experience will be used to personally ensure you receive the best advice and the best possible outcome to your case.

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Driving Bans

Wherever, following a conviction under the Road Traffic Act, there is a penalty of an obligatory endorsement of penalty points or an obligatory disqualification we may be able to avoid this for you, if we can establish ‘special reasons’.

The law has very clearly stated what amounts to ‘special reasons’ and this often causes confusion in the mind of the lay person.  We advise that you contact us as soon as you are aware of a prosecution in order that the issue of ‘special reasons’ can be discussed.
In order to establish ‘special reasons’ for not endorsing a licence or not disqualifying it will usually be essential to call evidence to satisfy the court of this.

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Failing to Identify Driver

The Road Traffic Act imposes a strict duty upon defendants to disclose the identity of drivers in these situations.  If you face a prosecution for failure to disclose the identity of the driver, you should contact us immediately.  We recommend that you speak to us prior to signing any documents and you should do this as soon as you receive them.
Just because the law seems onerous and puts strict duties upon people, do not assume that there are no defences to failure to disclose the identity of the driver of a motor vehicle.  There are, and success may well depend upon the speed with which you act when you are prosecuted.  Contact us immediately.

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Failure To Stop

In a prosecution for failure to stop we advise that you contact us immediately.  There is a strict duty upon motorists to stop and provide information, to people who reasonably request it, after an accident involving damage to property or injury to a person.
It is important to note that you can be guilty of failure to stop even if the accident is no fault of yours.
As with lot of road traffic offences, failing to stop is widely defined.  It does not have to involve a motor vehicle as the Act refers to mechanically propelled vehicle.  The definition of ‘accident’ tends to be regarded in a common sense way.  Any ‘injury’ to a person does not have to be physical injury and can even include nervous shock.

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Speeding Ticket

Do not assume that photographic or police evidence cannot be challenged. It can. If you believe that any evidence is wrong, you should contact us immediately.  To secure a conviction, the court has to be sure as to the accuracy of any evidence, that you were speeding. If this evidence fails to meet the required standards, we will argue before the court that there should be no conviction. If the court agrees with the argument you may well avoid a driving ban.

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