Ashworth Motoring Law on the Radio

Expert Drug Driving Solicitor, Alison Ashworth of Ashworth Motoring Law will be going live on Chorley FM today at 12:00pm to discuss the Drug Driving Law, and considering why there has been such an increase in the number of arrests for this controversial offence.

If you are still unclear about the Drug Driving Offence which was brought into force one year ago this month and would like to know more, then tune in to Chorley FM  this afternoon or call 0330 33 22 770 any time for free initial advice.

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The specialist driving offence solicitors at Ashworth Motoring Law defend all types of Motoring Offences including Drug Driving, Drink Driving, Failure to Provide a Specimen and Speeding. Call our free helpline to find out whether your case is one of the many that can be successfully defended.

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

Listen again to our live radio interview on drug driving

Missed our latest interview about the law on Drug Driving?

You can listen again here:

In this interview, we explain why there’s been an 800% increase in drug driving arrests and highlight the low drug driving limits which were set for illegal substances under the Drug Driving Law which was introduced in March 2015.

If you would like more information about drug driving, or would like to speak to a specialist drug driving solicitor about your case, call 0330 33 22 770 or email enquiries@ashworthmotoringlaw.co.uk for free initial advice. Our drug driving experts regularly defend drug driving offences, in fact we have a 100% success rate in securing acquittals for this offence.

 

 

 

The drug driving limits and how long drugs stay in your system

On 02 March 2015, it became an offence to drive with certain drugs in your system above specified limits.  The Section 5A Road Traffic Act Offence requires only the presence of the drug above the specified limit to provoke criminal proceedings against the driver. Under the new offence, it is not necessary for the prosecution to prove that there was anything wrong with the person’s manner of driving; just the presence of the drug above the limit is enough.

What are the drug driving limits?

The drug driving limits have been set with reference to the amount of the drug “per litre of blood”. No drug driving limits have been set for urine; therefore if the driver cannot provide a sample of blood, they cannot be convicted of driving with drugs in their system over the specified limit.

The drug driving limits per litre of blood for all substances, legal and illegal 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

It’s important to remember that the above limits are specific to the newer Section 5A Drug Driving Offence, not the old Section 4 Driving whilst Unfit through Drugs Offence which is still in force.

Under the old offence, the driver need only provide a sample of blood or urine which identifies the presence of a drug in the person’s system regardless of the amount of the drug, providing there is a causal link between the presence of the drug and the person’s manner of driving.

What do the drug driving limits actually mean?

Many motorists are struggling to work out what the drug drive limits actually mean.

It’s impossible to say with any certainty how much of a drug can be consumed before reaching the specified limits.

However, the drug driving limits for illegal drugs have been set to practically zero tolerance levels. It is said that as little as one puff on a joint could be enough to put someone over the limit.

Whilst the drug driving limits are deemed to be zero tolerance limits, they have been set with reference to scientific guidance to allow for accidental consumption such as passive smoking of cannabis.

The drug driving limits for legal drugs have been set above normal therapeutic doses; therefore if the driver has taken their medication in accordance with usual prescribing instructions then they are unlikely to be over the limit. It they have been prescribed a dose which is above the specified limit, then a medical defence will be available to them provided the they have taken their medication in accordance with the prescribing instructions of their medical professional.

How long do illegal drugs stay in your system?

It’s impossible to say with any certainty how long you would need to wait after taking drugs before you’d be deemed under the limit again. There are far too many variables.

The length of time which is required for a drug to leave your system depends on lots of different factors. These factors include the strength and amount of drug taken, the timeframe during which the consumption of the drug took place, and whether the drug was mixed with anything else. Other unique individual characteristics also play a crucial factor such as your metabolic rate, height, weight and gender.

Although bodily absorption rates differ from person to person, it is possible to suggest rough guidelines as to how long illegal drugs typically remain detectable in a person’s system.

Of the illegal drugs covered by the offence, the typical number of days that traces of a drug will remain in your system for 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

However, the above guidelines relate to the length of time that traces of the drug would remain in your system for. The guidelines do not necessarily relate to the amount of time that the drug would remain in your system at a level above the specified limit.  In instances such as cannabis for example, the specified limit under the offence relates only to the active delta-9 ingredient, which remains detectable in a person’s system for far less time than the cannabis metabolite.

If you’ve taken an illegal drug then it’s best to wait a significant period of time before getting back behind the wheel of a car.

What happens if I’m caught with an illegal drug in my system above the specified limit?

If you provide a blood sample which identifies the presence of one of the controlled drugs above the specified limit, then you will be charged with drug driving and summonsed to attend Court.

The Courts take drug driving offences very seriously, and a conviction would have long lasting consequences.

If you plead guilty, or if you are found guilty, you would face:

  1. A minimum 12 month disqualification from driving
  2. A fine of up to £5,000
  3. Possibly up to 6 months in prison or community service
  4. A criminal record
  5. Problems travelling to certain Countries like the USA
  6. The drug driving conviction would appear on your driving licence for 11 years
  7. Significant increases on your motor insurance premiums

A conviction for drug driving could have a serious impact on your future career options. Employers of professional drivers would want to look at your driving record and will see that you have a conviction for drug driving. Certain professional bodies will require you to disclose the conviction, and could stop you from practicing in your field.

Can a drug driving offence be defended?

If you have already been accused of drug driving, then all is not lost. There are many defences to a drug driving allegation. So much so that we have a 100% acquittal rate in defending drug driving offences. If you have been arrested for drug driving and would like to speak to an expert drug driving solicitor, call our free advice line on 0330 33 22 770 for free initial legal advice. We are always happy to discuss your case and can often identify potential defences within minutes. Lines are open round the clock so get in touch whenever’s best for you.

Article written by Drug Driving Expert, Alison Ashworth; Managing Director of Ashworth Motoring Law.

Alison Ashworth; Expert motoring lawyer and Director of www.ashworthmotoringlaw.co.uk

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drugalyser device. Ashworth motoring law defend drug driving offences and have a free advice line

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One Year on, the legal System is STILL not ready for the Drug Driving law, Major problems remain

One year on – Major problems with the drug driving law

Critical analysis of the Section 5A Road Traffic Act Drug Driving (Specified Limit) Offence by Expert Motoring Law Solicitor, Alison Ashworth.

One year after the Section 5A Road Traffic Act Drug Driving Law was introduced, new figures released by the Department for Transport suggest a 800% increase in drug driving arrests in the Cheshire region alone.

As a specialist Motoring Lawyer who deals predominantly in defending flawed motoring prosecutions I had a number of concerns about the new drug driving law, and identified a number of issues with it prior to its introduction. I concluded that the legal system was not ready for the new law. One year on this still seems to be the case. In fact, the last year has thrown up a whole set of new legal issues concerning this controversial legislation.

Misleading figures

Firstly, I am somewhat sceptical about the figures which have been provided by the Department for Transport. The headline figure makes reference to the number of arrests for drug driving. What I would like to know is the number of people who were arrested but not charged? My sources within the drug testing industry suggest that there is a high potential for roadside drug testing device to provide a ‘false positive’ result. It seems that the devices are set to pick up the cannabis metabolite which remains in a person’s system far longer than the active Delta 9 THC cannabis which is covered by the legislation. A person can only be charged on the basis of the active Delta 9 THC in their system, NOT the metabolite. There may well have been an increase in the number of arrests, but I’d bet there’s also an equally huge increase in the number of innocent drivers who are pulled over, arrested, taken to a police station, detained for the purpose of taking a blood sample and then ultimately released once the analysis highlights an absence of the active Delta 9 THC in their bodies.

The cannabis and cocaine-alyser

Still, the devices which the police are using to test for drugs at the roadside can only test for cocaine and cannabis. Abusers of prescription medications and users of any of the other illegal drugs can therefore drive away scot-free after passing the roadside test, or be taken to the police station if they display significant signs of impairment as per the original Section 4 Road Traffic Act Driving whilst Impaired through Drugs Offence.

Lack of equipment

In a number of cases, the equipment simply hasn’t been there at the roadside as planned. Some drivers have faced long waits for equipment to be delivered to the relevant location, or they have been taken to the police station for the purpose of taking the test. Police forces have now been given an additional £1 million to purchase drug screening equipment, train officers and pay for samples to be analysed.

Lack of labs who can analyse the blood sample for drugs

The new drug driving law was enacted before there were sufficient labs available to independently analyse the driver’s sample. When the law came into force, there was only one lab in the whole country which could test samples for the full spectrum of drugs covered by the offence.  The other labs were authorised only to test for cannabis and cocaine. All defendants who provide a blood sample for analysis at the police station are entitled to have their own sample independently analysed. With only one lab in the Country testing for the additional drugs, if the Prosecution’s sample was analysed by this lab, there was nowhere else to independently analyse the defendant sample. Defendants were being robbed of a crucial right. This was a huge injustice. Even now, the options available to defendants to have their own samples independently analysed are desperately scant, and in my view this lack of choice remains wholly unacceptable.

You cannot be convicted of the Section 5A Drug Driving Offence if you cannot provide a blood sample

This is perhaps this most ridiculous issue with the new drug driving law. You cannot be convicted, or even charged with Section 5A Drug Driving if you cannot provide a blood sample. The drug driving limits make reference to the amount of substance in blood alone. There is not yet an approved method of testing urine for the very specific drug amounts covered by the legislation. The polices’ own forms direct officers to take no further action if the person is unable to provide a blood sample. However, having won a case where this was an active issue, I know that the police are likely to, instead, consider the old Section 4 driving whilst impaired route of identifying evidence of impairment. Under the old Section 4 impaired driving route there is no relevant drug driving limit, therefore it is permissible to rely on the results of urine analysis. All that is required under the old offence is the presence of a drug in the system and a causal link between the presence of the drug and the person’s driving.

What the drug driving limits actually mean

There is still a fundamental lack of guidance about the drug driving limits themselves.

Whilst drug driving limits have been provided, a lack of information from the Government has left drivers completely bewildered as to what amount of drugs would result in exceeding the limit. Also, drugs can remain in a person’s system much longer than alcohol, often long after the effects have worn off.  However the risk of being caught drug driving “the morning after” consuming drugs is far less publicised than the dangers of “morning after drink driving”. Almost all of the Section 5a Road Traffic Act Drug Driving enquiries which I deal with involve drivers who have been charged with the offence despite taking a drug many hours before.

Flawed procedure

As with the more established motoring offences such as drink driving, or driving whilst unfit through drink or drugs, there are in many instances of grave failings by the police when investigating this latest offence. Failings that are so severe that they result in the case being thrown out of Court.

The Section 5A drug driving offence is still a mess

Bearing in mind that one single puff on a joint is said to be enough to put someone over the drug driving limit, and a conviction for this offence would result in a minimum 12 month driving ban, fine, possible prison sentence and a criminal record, my view is that there are still significant failings with the Section 5A Drug Driving (Specified Limit) Offence.  Of course, we need drug driving laws to protect the public from drugged drivers who are a danger to the public, but when a conviction for this offence could destroy a person’s whole life, more should be done to ensure that those who are suspected of committing the offence are treated fairly, and greater attention needs to be placed on raising awareness of the low levels of drugs in the body that can put a person over the specified limit in the first place.

Article written by Drug Driving Expert, Alison Ashworth; Managing Director of Ashworth Motoring Law.

Alison Ashworth; Expert motoring lawyer and Director of www.ashworthmotoringlaw.co.uk

Need help?

If you’ve been arrested for drug driving and would like expert advice and representation, call our motoring law advice line on 0330 33 22 770 for free initial advice from a specialist drug driving solicitor. Ashworth Motoring Law are experts in defending drug driving offences, in fact our Managing Director Alison Ashworth has a 100% success rate in securing acquittals in drug driving cases.

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