In March 2015, new drug driving legislation came into force in the UK, bringing the offence of drug driving in line with that of drink driving. As criminal law solicitors that specialise in drug driving and have significant expertise in drug driving law, we have drawn up a brief overview of the offences prosecutable under this legislation, and the likely penalties they could incur.
What constitutes a drug driving offence?
The principal offence is summed up as follows: “driving, attempting to drive, or being in charge of a motor vehicle, either on the road or in some other public place, whilst having a specified controlled substance in your system, the proportions of which exceeds the maximum legal limit.”
What is the likely penalty if I am convicted of a drug driving offence?
Whereas drink driving solicitors can estimate a likely penalty based on sentencing guidelines in place, drug driving solicitors have no such luxury. The Sentencing Council have yet to publish Magistrates Sentencing Guidelines for drug driving offences, as there is insufficient data. Additionally at the moment there is not the possibility to undertake a course for drug driving to reduce the ban.
The Council’s interim guidance can be found at the Sentencing Council website, but we have summarised the main points below.
Driving or attempting to drive: incurs a maximum penalty or 6 months in prison and/or an unlimited fine. For first offences, drug drivers can expect to be disqualified for at least 12 months, which can be extended to three years if this is the latest in a series of similar offences.
In charge of a vehicle: incurs a maximum penalty of 3 months in prison and/or a Level 4 fine. Disqualification from driving may be considered, or the imposition of 10 penalty points on your licence.
As with any criminal proceedings, the severity of the sentence will depend on the seriousness of the offence. The eventual penalty will take into consideration various factors such as whether an accident occurred, whether there were passengers in the car, and crucially whether the driver appears to be affected by the drugs. This is an area where we have a strong track record in persuading courts that the driver was not affected, and securing a minimum disqualification for our clients.
If you have been charged with a drug driving offence and need legal assistance on the matter, contact Forrest Williams Legal today on 01623 397 200 to speak to one of our experienced drug driving solicitors.