Drug Driving Penalties

Those who drive whilst under the influence of drugs would expect that if they are stopped by police their vehicle may be searched, and if drugs are found that they will be charged with possession, however not everyone realises it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle whilst unfit through consumption of drugs. It is important to note that the law does not differentiate between illegal or legal drugs/medicines and neither will your insurance company should you be convicted.

Taking drugs impairs your driving skills, causing dizziness, drowsiness, slower reaction times and an inability to concentrate.

After raising awareness of the dangers of drink driving, the police are now trying to combat the rising number of people driving under the influence of drugs. Police will observe how vehicles are being driven and also look at your appearance and behaviour for any signs of drug use.

Should you be pulled over by the police they may require you to undergo a Field Impairment Assessment. The Field Impairment Assessment is carried out by trained officers at the roadside, much like a roadside breath test for drink driving.  However this test includes observing the size of your pupils and whether your eyes are bloodshot, and assessing your balance, judgement and ability to walk straight.

There are plans to introduce a ‘drugalyser’ device at the roadside.  These are currently being trialled and are not yet in place across the country.

­If a police officer believes you are unfit to drive you will be arrested at the roadside and taken to a local police station where you will be examined by a Doctor and asked to give a blood sample.

New drug driving laws introduced March 2015

In a bit to reduce road fatalaties the Government has introduced new drug driving laws which cover the use of 8 illegal drugs and 8 legal prescription drugs while driving.

To read the article on the new drug driving offences law click here.

Your Rights at the Police Station

If you fail the roadside test, you will be asked to consent to giving a biological sample at the police station and this will be tested for the presence of drugs. It is usually a blood sample, although it is sometimes urine. The Police should also offer a sample of blood for you to take away from the station. We recommend that you should arrange to have your sample independently tested as soon as possible

If you do not consent to providing a blood sample you can be charged with another offence of failing to provide a specimen. Unless you have a reasonable excuse for failing to provide the sample such as a fear of needles, you could face conviction of this alternative offence.

Currently police and prosecutors have to show that your ability to drive has been affected by what you have taken.

Drug driving penalties

A drug driving conviction leads to the same sentence as drink driving:

  • A minimum 12-month driving ban
  • A criminal record
  • A fine of up to £5000

Your drug driving conviction will remain on your licence for 11 years.  This means higher car insurance payments and it could mean you have difficulties getting permission to enter other countries (as with any drug-related conviction).

Contact our specialist drug driving solicitors

The allegation of drug driving is an extremely serious one and could lead to a custodial sentence. Our specialist team of lawyers will review the strength of the prosecution’s case against you and advise you on the merits of your case. There are several strategies we can successfully apply to drug driving allegations and we would always recommend you speak to us before making any decisions about what to do next. Should you ever need to speak to one of our drug driving solicitors we are here to help, feel free to call our emergency number on 0330 999 4999. Alternatively please email your enquiry to roadtraffic@ibblaw.co.uk.


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