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“Help, I’ve been charged with Drug Driving”

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It is well known that drink driving is a criminal offence which will lead to disqualification and in serious cases, imprisonment. For a long time however, there has also been an offence of driving whilst impaired by drugs and now the Government have created a new offence specifically of drug driving.

With drink driving, if a person’s breath, blood or urine reading is over a set limit, then they can be convicted of the offence without any need to prove that their driving was impaired by the consumption of alcohol. However, this is not the case with drug driving and the Government has now created a new offence and is currently consulting with experts to set equivalent limits for a range of controlled drugs. In order to make drug detection easier therefore, the Home Office announced approval of one Drug Screening Device (DSD) in January 2013. There are many different types of DSDs, some of which can be used at the roadside and some of which cannot. The one currently approved can test for up to 6 different drugs, although the current approval is solely for THC, the active compound in cannabis.

This approved device can only be used indoors, therefore Police will only be able to use this device in the Police Station once someone has been arrested and detained. In practice this means that the Police will almost certainly have to continue to use previous methods, (e.g.roadside impairment tests) in order to gather sufficient evidence for an arrest. They can then use a DSD (which tests saliva) at the police station to screen for the presence of drugs followed by a blood or urine test to provide evidence of the level in the person’s system. It is clear therefore, that for the time being proving drug driving will remain more difficult to prove than it is for drink driving.

If you are facing prosecution for drug driving, drink driving or any other driving offence, please contact Sally Dale or Kieran Dunphy E: or call 01603 280262