A UK government survey of 2013/14 found that around 0.7 per cent of drivers admitted to driving when they thought they might be under the influence of illegal drugs, and 5.9 per cent admitted to driving when they thought they might have been over the drink drive limit.
Facing a motoring prosecution can be a daunting prospect. We have the experience and technical expertise to help you challenge any conviction or charge made against you. At First4Lawyers, you can talk to experienced motoring lawyers who can provide guidance and advice tailored to anyone accused of drink or drug-driving.
What is drink and drug-driving?
Drink-driving is the crime of driving a vehicle with an excess of alcohol in your blood, whereas drug-driving is the criminal offence of driving a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs.
In England and Wales, you are over the alcohol limit for drivers if you have more than 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood – a blood alcohol content of 0.08 per cent – while in Scotland the limit has been reduced to 50 milligrams of alcohol in every 100 millilitres of blood (0.05 per cent blood alcohol content).
If you are a male weighing 75 kilograms and you consume two pints of beer with an alcohol strength of four per cent over the space of two hours, your blood alcohol content will be 0.04 per cent – under the legal limit in England and Wales, and just under in Scotland. However, a female weighing 60 kilograms who consumes the same amount over the same time period would be over the legal limit, with a blood alcohol content of 0.082 per cent.
The police use roadside swab saliva tests to determine whether a driver is under the influence of drugs, and the legal limits for illegal drugs are very low. For example, if you are found to have two micrograms of THC (the active ingredient in cannabis) in a litre of blood, you will be charged.
The police test for cannabis, cocaine, ketamine, LSD, methamphetamine, MDMA and heroin, as well as prescription drugs such as Valium and morphine. However, the permitted levels of prescription drugs are generally higher.
What are the penalties for drink and drug-driving?
The penalties for drink-driving include driving bans and fines, and can even involve imprisonment, so it is vital that you act quickly in order to build a proper defence if you are charged.
Being in charge of a vehicle, such as being sat behind the wheel in possession of the car’s keys but not actually driving, while above the legal limit or unfit through drink carries a penalty of a fine of up to £2,500, a possible driving ban, and three months’ imprisonment.
Driving or attempting to drive while above the legal limit or unfit through drink carries a penalty of an unlimited fine, a driving ban of at least one year – or three years if convicted twice in 10 years – and six months’ imprisonment.
The offence of drug-driving carries a minimum penalty of a one-year driving ban, and if you are convicted you will also receive a fine of up to £5,000, as well as a criminal record. A drug-driving conviction can make it very difficult to get car insurance, and your driving licence would show any drug-driving conviction for 11 years.
Professional drivers, such as taxi and lorry drivers, are subject to background checks upon taking a job, and a drug-driving conviction would show up in a basic disclosure of unspent convictions for 11 years.
If you are a professional driver, whether or not you are obliged to tell your employer of any new convictions depends on the contract of employment. Some employers insist on being notified of any new drink or drug-driving convictions.
How can I defend myself against a drink or drug-driving charge?
If you have been stopped by the police on suspicion of drink or drug-driving, First4Lawyers can match you to one of our specialist lawyers.
It is vitally important to seek legal advice from an experienced motoring solicitor as soon as possible. The earlier we can start to gather information about your case, the stronger your defence will be.
I’ve been stopped by the police on suspicion of drink or drug driving. What should I do?
Contact First4Lawyers for all the information you need about your legal rights, and for guidance on the next steps to take in building a defence.
Our team of expert drink and drug-driving solicitors is ready to help you.
We offer free, untimed initial consultations to enable us to fully understand your situation and identify the key issues. We carry out a thorough review of your case in order to identify any potential defences or arguments that can be put forward as mitigation.
Our solicitors provide representation throughout proceedings from the moment you are notified of an offence until the conclusion of your case. Call us, or fill in our online enquiry form and we'll give you a call at a time to suit you.