Since the introduction of new drug driving legislation in 2015, prosecutions for this offence are becoming more common.
If you are caught drug driving and convicted, you can be disqualified for at least twelve months.
Unlike drink driving, you cannot reduce the ban by attending an education course.
In deciding the length of any disqualification, the Magistrates’ Court should take into account a number of factors, such as any bad driving and any previous convictions.
However, a drug driving offence with a high reading should not necessarily be treated more seriously than one that is only just over the legal limit.
This is because, as the Forensic Science Regulator has pointed out, in relation to illegal drugs, such as cannabis and cocaine, there is a “zero tolerance” approach. The legal limit for these drugs was set very low and not by reference to impairment. This means that a driver who is over the limit at the time of driving would not necessarily be impaired. Also, the extent to which the legal limit is exceeded bears no relation to the likely level of impairment the driver may have suffered. Also, regular users of some drugs, especially THC, may have levels of the drug in their blood and over the limit, long after their driving ability has ceased to be impaired. The position is therefore very different to drink driving cases, although many lawyers do not realise.
Also, in some cases where more than one drug is found, for example cocaine and benzoylecgonine, should be treated for sentencing purposes as one drug only. This is because they both occur in the body as a result of cocaine use. Again, this is not always appreciated.
In some cases, expert evidence from a forensic scientist or toxicologist may be useful to deal with these issues.
If you are prosecuted for drug driving, you should seek advice from a lawyer who has considerable experience of the complex scientific and legal issues at stake.
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