Drug Driving: The Law
Here at Forrest Williams solicitors, drug driving is one of our specialist areas. It is a quickly changing and complex area of law that potentially sees many innocent people guilty of serious offences.
In this post, we aim to answer some of the most frequently asked questions about his area of law.
Q: Why has the drug driving law changed, and how has it changed?
A: The government has decided to take a zero-tolerance approach to 8 drugs most associated with illegal use and a road safety risk based approach to 8 drugs most associated with medical uses. A separate approach has been taken to amphetamine that balances its legitimate use for medical purposes against its abuse.
The 8 illegal drugs (zero tolerance approach) are as follows:
- delta-9-tetrahydrocannibinol (cannabis)
- lysergic acid diethylamide
- 6-monoacetylmorphine (heroin)
Q: I am taking medicine prescribed by my GP. Can I still drive?
A: If you are taking legal drugs (prescription or over-the-counter medicines) and you are not sure if you should drive, you need to speak with your doctor, pharmacist or healthcare professional.
This is because drug driving laws now mean it is illegal in England and Wales to drive with legal drugs in your body if it impairs your driving.
Talk to your doctor if you have been prescribed any of the following drugs:
- amphetamine (eg dexamphetamine or selegiline)
- morphine or opiate and opoid-based drugs, eg codeine, tramadol or fentanyl
If you have been prescribed them, are taking them as advised by a healthcare professional and they are not causing you to be unfit to drive (even if you’re above the specified limits), then you can drive after taking these drugs.
Q: I take medication prescribed by my GP but I am now worried about being stopped by the police. What should I do?
A: It would be a good idea to take evidence of your medication with you, as you travel, just in case you are stopped by the police.
Q: What if I have been charged with drug driving, but I was taking medication as prescribed, and I do not believe I was impaired?
A: Then you have a medical defence to the charge and should seek specialist legal advice on how to proceed. We can help. Call our expert team on 01623 600645.
Q: What can the police do if I am driving and they think I am on drugs?
A: The police can stop you and make you do a ‘field impairment assessment’. This is a series of tests, such as asking you to walk in a straight line. They can also use a roadside drug kit to screen for cannabis and cocaine.
Q: What can the police do if they think I am unfit to drive because I have taken drugs?
A: They can arrest you on suspicion of drug driving and take you back to the police station, where you will be asked to give samples of either blood or urine for testing. If the test shows you have taken drugs, you could be charged with an offence.
Q: What if I have taken legal drugs that I had not been prescribed?
A: You could be prosecuted if the levels were above the limits in the new regulations.
Q: What penalties would I face if I were convicted of drug driving?
A: You would be looking at a minimum 1 year disqualification from driving, an unlimited fine, up to 6 months in prison and a criminal record. In addition, your driving licence would show that you’ve been convicted of drug driving. This endorsement remains on your licence for 11 years.
There are also other consequences of a drug driving conviction:-
- Your car insurance costs would also increase significantly.
- If you drive for work, your employer would see the conviction on your licence.
- You may have difficulties travelling to countries such as the USA.
Q: I heard something in the news about the penalty for causing death by dangerous driving under the influence of drugs. What is this?
A: A prison sentence of up to 14 years.
If you are being charged with drug driving, call our expert team now on 01623 600645 for a free initial review of your case.