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Drug Driving Solicitors

If you are being investigated in respect of drug driving, you need a solicitor with expertise in this area to give you the best chance of retaining your licence and avoiding other penalties.

A drug driving conviction can be damaging to your career and your reputation, and you could face a prison sentence for the most severe offences.

How our drug driving solicitors can help you

At Stephen Rimmer LLP, our drug driving solicitors have in-depth experience in dealing with drug driving legislation and charges. As well as a strong understanding of the law in this area, we also have a sound knowledge of the justice system, including how your case should be handled and potential mistakes by the authorities which could mean that charges against you should be dropped.

We will advise you of the strength and implications of the case against you and assess whether there are any mitigating factors that should be taken into account. Our advice to you will be clear and helpful and we will do all we can to protect your interests.

We offer a full range of drug driving services, including:

Stephen Rimmer LLP is one of the few law firms based in East Sussex which is authorised by the Legal Aid Agency to carry out Prison Law work. This means that we can provide advice to prisoners in relation to serious driving offences.

We also provide a privately funded defence to all driving offence charges.

We have been recognised for our criminal law expertise by the Law Society’s Criminal Litigation accreditation.

Get in touch with our drug driving solicitors

For immediate assistance and representation in respect of drug driving allegations, contact us as follows:

Our drug driving expertise

Driving or attempting to drive under the influence of drugs

Under section 5A of the Road Traffic Act 1988, it is an offence to drive or be in charge of a motor vehicle with concentrations of specified controlled drugs above a certain limit in your system.

This includes both illegal drugs and some medically prescribed drugs, as follows:

Illegal drugs, where no amount is permitted:

  • Cannabis
  • Cocaine
  • Heroin
  • Ketamine
  • LSD
  • MDMA
  • Meth
  • Speed

Prescription drugs, where you may be allowed to take them in accordance with a prescription:

  • Amphetamine, for example dexamphetamine or selegiline
  • Clonazepam
  • Diazepam
  • Flunitrazepam
  • Lorazepam
  • Methadone
  • Morphine or opiate and opioid-based drugs, for example codeine, tramadol or fentanyl
  • Oxazepam
  • Temazepam

You can take prescribed medications and drive provided that they were prescribed for you, you are taking them in accordance with your doctor’s instructions and you are fit to drive after taking them.

While there is no lower limit for illegal substances, drug driving limits for illegal drugs are set so that you could not have them in your system inadvertently.

If you are found guilty or you plead guilty to driving while under the influence of drugs, you will be disqualified for at least twelve months unless you are able to provide a special reason not to lose your licence. You will also be fined up to £5,000 and you could receive a community order or a prison sentence in some cases.

If you have previously been convicted of this offence in the last ten years, you will be classed as a repeat offender and can expect a heavier sentence, including losing your licence for up to three years.

Other aggravating factors include:

  • The offence took place where there were numbers of other road users or pedestrians
  • There were passengers in the car
  • Your standard of driving was poor
  • You were involved in an accident

It is a defence to the offence of driving or attempting to drive under the influence of drugs to demonstrate that they were prescribed for you for medical reasons and that you took them according to the instructions given by your medical practitioner.

If you are able to demonstrate that you had a special reason for committing the offence, you may be able to ask the court to allow you to keep your licence. An example would be where you were unknowingly given drugs.

The court may also take into account mitigating factors when considering sentencing, including:

  • If it was a first offence
  • You were intending to make a short journey
  • You are remorseful and of good character
  • The journey was necessary because of an emergency

Being in charge of a vehicle while under the influence of drugs

It is also an offence to be in charge of a vehicle while under the influence of drugs. You could be found to be in charge if you have your car keys in your hand near your car, you were trying to enter your car or you were sitting in the car while it was stationary, even if this is in the passenger seat. The car could belong to you or be a vehicle that you have recently driven.

You may have a defence if you can prove that there was no likelihood of your driving the vehicle. If you plead guilty or are convicted, you could be fined, disqualified and, in the most serious cases, given a prison sentence.

Causing injury or death by dangerous driving while under the influence of drugs

Drug driving penalties are substantial if you are involved in an accident that causes injury or death. The maximum sentence for causing death while under the influence of drugs is life imprisonment.

If you are being investigated following an accident and on suspicion of having taken drugs, you are strongly advised to seek legal advice without delay.

Driving while unfit through drugs

Driving while unfit through drugs is a less common offence than drug driving but the penalties are similar, with a minimum disqualification period of twelve months plus a fine, a community order or a sentence.

Failing to provide a specimen

The police have the right to ask you to provide a specimen if they have reasonable suspicion that you are exceeding the drug driving limits. This could be of blood, urine or breath.

If you fail to provide a specimen, the court can conclude that this was an intention to avoid conviction for drug driving and the sentence you receive could be similar to that for drug driving, including a minimum disqualification of twelve months and a fine of up to £5,000. In serious cases, you could face a prison sentence of up to six months.

If you have a drug driving conviction that you received in the previous ten years, the penalties will be more substantial and the disqualification period could be between three and five years.

There are some defences to failing to provide a specimen and if you have been unable to do this for some reason, we can go over what happened with you and discuss raising it as a defence.

It is also a requirement for the police to follow the correct protocol in requesting a specimen. We can discuss how this was approached and check that there was no breach on their part.

For more information, see motoring defence solicitors.

Our drug driving fees

Legal aid for drug driving offences

Our criminal defence solicitors can provide representation at the police station if required and this will be covered by legal aid. Legal aid is also sometimes available for serious offences where there is a risk of being sent to prison. We can advise you as to whether you will be eligible for legal aid.

Privately funded drug driving representation

We also provide privately funded representation for clients facing allegations of drug driving. For information about our fees, please get in touch.

Drug driving FAQs

Is it worth getting a solicitor for drug driving?

Because of the serious penalties that can be imposed, you are strongly advised to speak to a solicitor if you are accused of breaking drug driving laws. We are often able to raise mitigating circumstances that enable clients to receive a reduced sentence and avoid losing their driving licence.

We can also make sure that the right process has been followed in dealing with your case. If it has not, we may be able to ask that the charges against you be dropped.

Can you plead not guilty to drug driving?

It is open to you to plead not guilty to drug driving. We can advise you on the strength of your case and if there is no direct evidence, for example, showing that you were in control of a vehicle or had driven the vehicle, by pleading not guilty the prosecution will need to provide evidence or they could lose the case.

You are strongly advised to speak to an expert drug driving solicitor before you enter a plea.

Is there a defence for drug driving?

There are several defences for drug driving, including:

  • The drug was a prescribed one and you took it in accordance with the prescription and the medical advice that you were given
  • You took the drug after you had finished driving
  • You took the drug inadvertently, for example, your drink was spiked

Will I be convicted for drug driving first offence UK?

If you are convicted or you plead guilty to drug driving, you will receive a criminal conviction, even if it is your first offence. Drug driving sentencing guidelines provide that your licence must be endorsed and you must be disqualified for at least twelve months.

If there are mitigating factors, it is open to the court to impose a lesser sentence than it might otherwise consider.

How long does drug driving stay on your driving licence?

An endorsement for drug driving will stay on your licence for either four or eleven years, depending on the offence. If you are convicted of driving while under the influence of drugs, the endorsement will be on your licence for eleven years.

What happens if I fail to provide a specimen?

If you fail to provide a specimen, this can be construed as an attempt to avoid conviction because you had drugs in your system and the sentence that you receive is likely to be the same as for drug driving convictions unless you are able to establish a defence.

Get in touch with our drug driving solicitors in Eastbourne and Hastings

For immediate expert advice on drug driving offences, please use the contact details below to get in touch:

How can we help you?

Call us today on 01323 644222 to get the specialist help you need.