Driving with a proportion of a controlled drug over the specified limit (drug driving):
Are you looking for the best drug driving solicitors in the Country?
There are two drug driving offences. This page is dedicated to the latest Section 5a Road Traffic Act 1988 ‘specified limit’ drug driving offence which came into force on 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 an offence, and it might be that you are being wrongly prosecuted. A conviction could destroy your whole life. Don’t worry; our expert drug driving lawyers can help.
At Ashworth Motoring law, we have particular expertise in defending drug driving offences, and are widely considered the best drug driving lawyers in the Country. Our most experienced drug driving expert, Senior Solicitor and Managing Director Alison Ashworth, was particularly vocal about this offence in the media before its commencement, featuring on BBC’s “Inside Out” television programme and in various news publications to discuss the issue.
In many ways, the specified limit drug driving 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. In some cases, you may have been 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. Through successfully defending drug driving cases across the Country, we know that, as with all blood and urine offences, multiple mistakes are made by the police and prosecution, all of which have resulted in Not Guilty verdicts for our clients at trial.
Call a specialist drug driving solicitor now
If you have been arrested for drug driving, we highly recommend you contact our free motoring law helpline on 0330 33 22 770 and ask to be put through directly to our nationally recognised expert in drug driving cases, Alison Ashworth. Alison has an exceptional 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.
Many drivers mistakenly believe that their case cannot be defended. It is genuinely one of the most rewarding aspects of our job to be able to examine a case, identify defences and build a strong case to take to trial and win.
The Law on Drug Driving – (over the specified limit)
In order to convict you of a drug driving 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 of that drug exceeded the specified drug driving limit.
If you are convicted of drug driving you will receive an automatic disqualification from driving for at least 12 months, an unlimited level of fine and up to 6 months in prison.
The minimum period of disqualification increases to 3 years if you have committed a similar offence within the last 10 years.
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 prosecuted for this offence.
The legal limits for drug driving have been set extremely low. For example, 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 lawyers 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 the top scientific drug experts in the country we can establish where contamination and mishandling of the specimen has taken place, and apply to have the evidence excluded. There are very specific legal rules surrounding the taking of blood specimens. 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 a 100% acquittal rate in most offence categories involving the analysis of blood and urine.
The specified limits for the 2015 drug driving offence
The specified limits “per litre of blood” for all substances 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 due to a number of external factors that must be taken into consideration; such as height, weight, and metabolic rate. As with drink driving, your body may absorb a drug at a different rate to another person’s body. Furthermore, you should also remember that drugs typically remain in a person’s system much longer than alcohol.
How long do illegal drugs stay in your system for?
The length of time which is required for a drug to leave your body varies considerably. The following factors can determine how long a drug will stay in your system:
- Type of substance
- The amount of drug taken
- How the drug was taken
- The individual characteristics of the person taking the drug; and
- Whether the drug has been mixed with any other substance, such as alcohol.
Consequently, the government has avoided providing guidance about the typical detection times for the drugs which are covered by this 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 your system.
Of the illegal drugs covered by the offence, the typical number of days that traces of a drug will remain in your body are 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 on a roadside drugs test are Cocaine and Cannabis. The mobile drug testing devices (drugalysers) work by analysing your saliva to identify the presence of Cocaine or Cannabis in the body. The results appear within 8 minutes. The officer should not rely on any result that appeared over 8 minutes after administering the test. If you provide a positive result at the roadside it will lead to you being taken to a police station and being 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 drugalyser device as the mobile drug testing device is simply not reliable enough.
How are the other drugs 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 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.
If you fail a field impairment test it would result in you being taken to the police station and being asked to provide an evidential 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.
The specified limits for legal drugs have been set within or above normal therapeutic doses. Therefore, most people need not be concerned about falling fowl of the laws on drug driving. 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). If you are prescribed any of the medications covered by the specified limit drug driving offence and are concerned about the level of drug you are taking, then you should speak to your GP or pharmacist.
Nevertheless, we would advise you to carry evidence of the prescribing instructions given to you by your health care professional if you are taking higher than average doses of relevant medicines. This would speed up investigations into your medical defence at the police station. If you are considering taking over-the-counter medication to supplement your prescription you should also consult your GP to find out whether the additional medicine could put you 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 lawyers who specialise in defending drug driving offences. Lines are open round the clock, so get in touch at a time which is convenient to 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.
If you have the right representation to handle your guilty plea to a drug driving offence it could mean the difference between a driving ban or a prison sentence. The possible sentences you face for this offence can be very severe. Therefore it is vital that you speak to a lawyer who specialises in drug driving offences as soon as possible for extensive mitigation work to be commenced.
Our specialist drug driving solicitors 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. Alternatively, call one of specialist lawyers on 0330 33 22 770.
Call our Motoring Law Helpline for some Free Legal Advice from an Expert Drug Driving Lawyer 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.
Here’s one of our radio interviews about drug driving, and the reasons why so many people are being arrested for this offence.