Driving with a proportion of a controlled drug over the specified limit:

There are two drug driving offences. This page is dedicated to the new Section 5a Road Traffic Act 1988 drug driving offence which came into force 02 March 2015. If you have been arrested for driving whilst unfit through drugs then please click here.

Being arrested for drug driving can feel like a living nightmare. You probably didn’t set out to commit any offence, and it might be that you are being wrongly prosecuted for this offence in the first place. A conviction could destroy your whole life. Don’t worry; we can help.

At Ashworth Motoring law, we have particular expertise in defending drug driving offences, and our most experienced specialist drug driving solicitor, Managing Director Alison Ashworth was particularly vocal about this offence in the media before its commencement.

In many ways, this offence appears extremely unfair. You could be convicted, receive a minimum 12 month disqualification, possible prison sentence and a criminal record even though your manner of driving was not affected, and in some cases, even if you were prescribed the medication from your GP. This is a serious offence which could have potentially life changing consequences on your career and future prospects in life.

Fortunately there are many defences to a drug driving offence, and we are finding that, as with all blood and urine offences, multiple mistakes are made by the police and prosecution when bringing drivers before the Courts for this offence, all of which could result in a Not Guilty verdict at trial.

We would advise anyone who has been arrested for drug driving to contact our free motoring law helpline on 0330 33 22 770 and ask to be put through directly to Alison Ashworth, who has a 100% acquittal rate in all defended drink and drug driving cases involving the analysis of blood and urine. Regardless of whether the substance which the police identified in your system was legal or illegal, it is highly likely that there will be defences available to you.

The Law on Drug Driving – (over the specified limit)

In order to convict you for this offence, the Prosecution needs to prove that you drove a vehicle on a road or public place with a proportion of a specified drug in your body, and the proportion exceeded the specified drug driving limit.

A conviction for drug driving will lead to an automatic disqualification from driving for at least 12 months, a fine of up to £5000 and up to 6 months in prison.

It is very important to stress that it is NOT necessary for the Prosecution to prove that your manner of driving was affected for you to be taken to Court and prosecuted for this offence.

The legal limits for drug driving have been set extremely low, and it is thought that just one puff on a joint is enough to put you over the limit. The drug driving limits are displayed for your information below.

Click here to view our critical analysis of the drug driving law and read major problems which we’ve identified surrounding this controversial offence.

How our specialist drug driving solicitors can help you

Fortunately there are many defences available to drug driving offences.

It may be that the evidence of the drug in your system is unreliable. It may also be the case that the correct police procedures were not followed and the evidence was taken unlawfully. With access to some of the top scientific drug experts in the Country we can establish where contamination and mishandling of the specimen could have taken place, and can apply to have the evidence excluded. There are very specific legal rules surrounding the taking of blood specimens, and breaches of these rules can be catastrophic to the Prosecution’s case. Intricate knowledge of these rules is vital for a strong defence. That’s why our managing director and motoring law expert, Alison Ashworth has won every case involving the analysis of blood and urine that she has ever taken on.

The specified limits for the 2015 drug driving offence

The specified limits “per litre of blood” for all substances to be included in the new offence are as follows:

  • Benzoylecgonine (a cocaine metabolite) 50
  • Clonazepam 50
  • Cocaine 10
  • Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (cannabis) 2
  • Diazepam 550
  • Flunitrazepam 300
  • Ketamine 20
  • Lorazepam 100
  • Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD) 1
  • Methadone 500
  • Methylamphetamine 10
  • Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA)10
  • 6-Monoacetylmorphine (Heroin) 5
  • Morphine 80
  • Oxazepam 300
  • Temazepam 1000

The amount of substance required to reach the above limits will be different from person to person.  This is because a number of external factors must be taken into consideration; such as height, weight, and metabolic rate. As with drink driving, one person’s body may absorb a drug at a different rate than another person’s body. It is also important to remember that drugs typically remain in a person’s system much longer than alcohol.

How long do illegal drugs stay in a person’s system for?

The length of time which is required for a drug to leave a person’s system varies considerably. The following factors can determine how long a drug will stay in your system:

  • Type of substance;
  • Purity;
  • The amount of drug which was taken;
  • How the drug was taken:
  • The individual characteristics of the person who has taken the drug; and
  • Whether the drug has been mixed with any other substance, such as alcohol.

The government has avoided providing guidance about the typical detection times for the drugs which are covered by the specified limit drug driving offence.

Whilst bodily absorption rates differ from person to person, it is possible to suggest rough timelines for how long drugs typically remain detectable in a person’s system,

Of the illegal dugs covered by the offence, the typical number of days that traces of a drug will remain in a person’s system is as follows:

  • Cannabis: 2 – 3 days for one off use (potentially up to two months for chronic users)
  • Cocaine : 12 hours – 3 days
  • MDMA: 1 – 4 days
  • Heroin: 2 – 5 days
  • Ketamine: 2 – 4 days
  • LSD: 1 – 3 days
  • Crystal Meth: 1 – 4 days

Which drugs can be detected at the roadside?

Currently, the only drugs which can be detected at the roadside are Cocaine and Cannabis. Cocaine and cannabis can be picked up on mobile drugalizer devices which work by analysing your saliva.  The results appear within around 8 minutes. A positive result at the roadside will lead to you being taken to a police station and required to provide an evidential blood sample. You would be prosecuted on the basis of the evidential blood test at the police station rather than the initial indication provided by the drugaliser device because the mobile device is simply not reliable enough.

How are the other drugs be detected?

Until more comprehensive roadside testing devices are granted “type approval”, the police must continue to rely on old -style field impairment tests to detect the presence of drugs (whether legal or illegal) in a your system at the roadside. These tests include:

  • The Romberg test: which tests balance and judgement
  • The walk and turn test
  • The standing on one leg test
  • The finger to nose test
  • The pupil measure test: assessing the size of the pupils

Failing a field impalement test would result in a you being taken to the police station and asked to provide a blood sample.

Prescription drugs- the medical defence to drug driving

A factual medical defence is available in law to a ‘specified limit’ drug driving offence.

If you are prescribed any of the medications which are covered by this offence then you should speak to your GP or pharmacist if you are concerned about the level of drug which you have been prescribed.  The limits for legal drugs have been set within or above normal therapeutic doses; therefore most people need not be concerned. If you are taking higher than usual doses then you would have a medical defence available to you if the medication has been personally prescribed to you, you have taken the medication in accordance with prescribing instructions, and you have adhered to any restrictions (such as the length of time that you are required to refrain from driving after taking your medication).

We would advise drivers who are taking higher than average doses of relevant medicines to carry evidence of the prescribing instructions given to you by your health care professional. This would speed up investigations into your medical defence at the police station. Users of prescription medication should also consult their GP if they are considering taking over-the-counter medication to supplement their prescription to find out whether the additional medicine could put them over the limit.

Call our free motoring law helpline on 0330 33 22 770 to discuss your situation with one of our expert drug driving solicitors. Lines are open round the clock, so get in touch whenever’s best for you.

Pleading Guilty to a ‘specified limit’ drug driving offence? Damage limitation

If you accept that you had a controlled substance in your system, and you agree that the level of the substance was above the specified limit but want to limit the severity of the sentence imposed then our guilty plea and mitigation service could have a massive impact on the overall sentence you receive.

Click here to find out more about our Specialist Guilty Plea and Mitigation Service

Having the right representation to handle your guilty plea to a drug driving offence could mean the difference between a driving ban or a prison sentence.  The possible sentences for this offence can be very severe, therefore it is vital that you speak to a solicitor who specialises in drug driving offences as soon as possible for extensive mitigation work to be commenced.

Our drug driving experts continue to secure truly outstanding results in drug driving cases when putting forward guilty pleas and mitigation.

If you’re considering pleading guilty to a ‘specified limit’ drug driving offence and would like to know more about how our guilty plea and mitigation service could give you peace of mind along with an amazing result at Court, then visit our dedicated guilty plea page or call one of specialist solicitors on 0330 33 22 770.

Call our Motoring Law Helpline for some Free Legal Advice from an Expert Drug Driving Solicitor who Specialises in Defending Drug Driving Allegations

We are always happy to talk through your options and provide expert advice and guidance which could result in a not guilty verdict in your case.  Lines are open round the clock, seven days a week, so get in touch whenever’s best for you.

Free legal advice for drug driving offences from the specialist drug driving solicitors at Ashworth Motoring Law

Here’s one of our more recent radio interviews about drug driving, and the reasons why so many people are being arrested for this offence.