Drug-driving Christmas Crackdown

2nd December 2019 Driving Offences

The National Police Chiefs Council have stated that they will be stopping drivers at the roadside in the run-up to Christmas to catch those driving while under the influence of drugs. Officers will be on the lookout during the festive period when many people will be attending parties.

According to the BBC, the crackdown comes amid the number of drug-driving crashes doubling over the last 5 years.

We look at the law regarding drug driving below and the sentence you can expect if found guilty:

Offence

The offence of drug driving is currently covered under Section 5A of the Road Traffic Act (“RTA”) 1988 and involves driving, attempting to drive or being in charge of a motor vehicle with a specified controlled drug in the blood or urine in excess of the specified limit for that drug.

The offence is one of strict liability which means there is no need for the police to prove the driver was impaired during driving. The presence of a prohibited substance over the specified limit will be enough for a motorist to be convicted under the legislation.

“Controlled drugs” and the “specified limit”

The below controlled drugs attract a zero tolerance approach and the limits are set at a level which rule out any claims of accidental exposure:

Controlled drug

Limit (microgrammes per litre of blood)

Benzoylecgonine

50

Cocaine

10

Cannabis

2

Ketamine

20

Lysergic acid diethylamide

1

Methylamphetamine

10

MDMA

10

Heroin

5

 

The Regulations take into account medicinal drugs and the following limits apply:

Medicinal drug

Limit (microgrammes per litre of blood)

Clonazepam

50

Diazepam

550

Flunitrazepam

300

Lorazepam

100

Methadone

500

Morphine

80

Oxazepam

300

Temazepam

1000

 

Defence

Under Section 5A(3) RTA 1988, there is a defence available if the drug is taken in accordance with medical advice. Once medical evidence has been produced the court must assume that the defence is satisfied unless the prosecution proves beyond reasonable doubt that it is not.

However, the defence is not available where medical advice about not driving for a certain period of time after taking the drug has not been followed. This includes any accompanying instructions given by the manufacturer.

Sentencing

Drug driving is a summary only offence and the maximum sentence is an unlimited fine and/or 6 months imprisonment.

Anyone convicted also faces a minimum 12 month disqualification.

If you have been arrested for any drug or drink related driving offences, please feel free to get in touch with a member of JMW’s Specialist Motoring team on 0345 872 6666.

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Ibrahim Patel is a Trainee Solicitor located in Manchesterin our Trainee Solicitors department

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