Driving with a Prescribed drug above the Specified limit was introduced in March 2015 and is designed to make the detection and prosecution of "Drug Drivers" more straightforward. The existing offence of "Driving Whilst Unfit Through Drugs" is a cumbersome offence and has only a 50% conviction rate, but still exists and is a more onerous offence to prove as it requires the prosecution to prove that the driver was "impaired" at the time of driving.
The new offence involves the testing of a driver for certain Controlled Drugs, which if over a particular limit result in prosecution, and upon conviction a mandatory disqualification.The drugs tested include not only those prohibited under the Misuse of Drugs Act such as Cannabis or Cocaine, but those prescribed by a Medical Practitioner such as antidepressant medication. The level over which a person may be guilty is set intentionally low for those drugs that are prohibited by law, meaning that a driver can often be found to be over the Specified limit even if the drug consumption is not recent.
A defence exists to the new charge, but it is complicated and requires expert knowledge of the legislation and the Drug Driving procedure. Similarly, Prosecutions for offences of Driving whilst Unfitare often result in acquittal due to deficiencies in the procedure adopted by the police.
Philip Morris has extensive experience in this area of law. He has provided training to other lawyers on the legislation and has successfully challenged a number of prosecutions in this complex area of Road Traffic Law. Phil advises that anyone charged with either of these offences should get in touch.>>
There are no sentencing guidelines for this offence, although guidance has been given to the magsitrates and can be found below.
Unlike in Drink driving cases, the court has no power to offer a course post conviction to reduce the period of disqualification.