The rise of drug driving – the law, explained - Palmers Solicitors

The rise of drug driving – the law, explained

The rise of drug driving – the law, explained

Across the festive period, multiple police forces across the UK – including West Yorkshire and Merseyside – noticed a marked increase in the number of stops and arrests for drug driving. In some areas, these cases have exceeded drunk driving cases.

While this spike is partially seasonal, we’re seeing a general rise in the number of drug driving cases – and the law lacks clarity in some areas.

Jeremy Sirrell, motor vehicle offences expert at Palmers, explains the regulations surrounding driving under the influence of drugs and the penalties for doing so.

Driving under the influence

It is against the law, and you may face serious penalties if something serious like an accident happens while you are driving under the influence of drugs.

The police are allowed to stop you if they suspect you are driving while using drugs. A field impairment assessment may be carried out to test you for physical impairments or certain types of illegal drugs.

You may also be asked to submit to a urine or blood test at a police station if they think you have been under the influence of drugs while driving.

The penalties

Drug driving is a serious offence that can cause danger to yourself and others. For this reason, those convicted of it may face:

  • An unlimited fine
  • Up to six months in prison
  • A criminal record
  • Disqualification from driving of at least one year
  • Indication of conviction on your licence for 11 years

A conviction for drug driving may preclude you from working as a driver or from entering certain countries that take a hard stance on drug use.

It’s important to understand when you may be at risk of drug driving – but it is not always clear.

Where is the confusion?

The confusion around drug driving lies in the legality of the drugs themselves.

While possessing illegal drugs, even for personal use, is against the law, you are only classed as drug driving if you have more than a specified limit in your blood – even if it has not affected your driving. These limits are, however, set extremely low.

Conversely, legally prescribed and obtained drugs may still put you at risk of drug driving if they impact your ability to drive.

You should make the effort to avoiding driving under the influence of drugs by checking with your doctor on whether your medication will impair your ability to drive.

Advice and representation

Being accused of drug driving is serious and can have repercussions on your ability to work in certain roles, travel to certain countries and obtain car insurance.

This means that it is important to consult an expert of motor vehicle offences to ensure that you receive the appropriate support and mitigate penalties if any are required.

For support and representation in a road traffic offence case, please contact our experts today.