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Drug Driving

It has long been illegal to drive a vehicle while under the influence of drugs. Traditionally it has been necessary for the police and prosecution to prove that the driver’s ability was impaired because of the substance they had taken.

Despite there being this well-established offence of “Driving whilst unfit through drink or drugs” the UK Government introduced drug driving laws in 2015 that made it an offence to drive, or be in charge of, a vehicle whilst you were over the prescribed limit of 16 specified substances, even if you were not unfit or impaired.

The specified substances include eight “recreational” and eight “prescription” drugs which can be identified through blood sample analysis. There is also provision for “drugalysers” to be used to test drivers at the roadside for levels of cocaine and cannabis.

Whilst it is suggested that the illegal drug limits are set deliberately low and the prescription drug limits have been set higher there is a risk that a person taking prescription drugs according to instructions from their healthcare professional could be found to be over the limit.

It is also an offence to fail to provide a specimen, which may include giving a specimen of saliva at the roadside or failing to provide a specimen of blood at the police station or hospital. All offences carry considerable penalties including mandatory disqualification and the potential for a community penalty or even custody if a dine is not deemed appropriate.

Much like the drink drive laws this is a particularly technical area of law and procedures that take place at the roadside, in a Police Station or at a hospital are crucial.

Expert advice should be sought both at the Police Station or as soon as possible thereafter and certainly before the first appearance at the Magistrates Court.

Sentencing Guidelines

Maximum: Level 5 fine and/or 6 months custody.


Must endorse and disqualify for at least 12 months.

Must disqualify for at least 2 years if the offender has had 2 or more disqualifications for periods of 56 days or more in the preceding 3 years.

Must disqualify for at least 3 years if the offender has been convicted of a relevant offence in preceding 10 years.

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