Prior to 2nd March 2015 there was not a definitive drug drive limit and the prosecution had to prove that the accused was unfit to drive, they had been under the influence of drugs and that their driving was affected by taking the substance, in order to secure a conviction. Since this date drug driving laws have been changed to make it easier for the police to catch and convict drug drivers.
It is now illegal to drive if you are unfit to do so due to taking legal or illegal drugs, or because you have certain drugs above a specified level in your blood, and as with drink driving, you can be charged on the results of a blood test or mouth swab.
If you are facing prosecution because of a Drug Driving offence, our expert Drug Driving Solicitors are best placed to advise you on your options moving forward. Contact us today on Freephone 0800 046 3066.
The law covers sixteen legal and illegal drugs; these are:
- Cocaine-cocaine users will often drive with more risk and at higher speeds due to feeling over-confident
- delta-9-tetrahydrocannibinol (cannabis)-cannabis users can drive more slowly, and as a result think they are safe, but it slows down reaction and decision times, lowering concentration and control of the vehicle
- lysergic acid diethylamide
- methyl amphetamine
- MDMA-MDMA or ecstasy can cause distorted vision, heightened perception of sounds and altered perception of risks and judgement
- 6-monoacetylmorphine (heroin)
Concentration levels can also be affected whilst the effects of the drug are wearing off and cause a feeling of fatigue. Drivers might also find that some legal medication makes them feel drowsy and unable to concentrate and therefore affects their ability to drive safely. It is important to check with a doctor if you think your medication could impact on your driving.
Previously if you were stopped by the police because they suspected that you were under the influence of drugs they carried out a “field impairment assessment”, such as asking you to walk in a straight line or standing on one leg, as well as checking your pupils to see if they were enlarged. The police now use a roadside drug kit to test suspects which involves taking a swab from inside your mouth in order to test for illegal drugs. If the test is positive you will be arrested and will have to take a blood or urine test at the police station. If these show you’ve taken drugs you could be charged.
The same penalties are incurred for drug driving as with drink driving. If you are convicted you will receive:
- A minimum 12 month driving ban
- A criminal record
- A large fine, up to 6 months in prison, or both
Drug driving can also have longer lasting consequences, including:
- The shame of having a criminal record
- Loss of independence
- Job loss
- Increased car insurance costs
- Trouble getting into countries like the USA
- Your driving licence showing that you have been convicted for drug driving for 11 years
Causing death by dangerous driving under the influence of drugs carries a prison sentence of up to 14 years.