Learn what you need to know about the drug driving penalty
A drug driving charge can have serious consequences. Though the offence is relatively new in the UK and the sentencing guidelines are only advisory, a drug driving penalty can be harsh.
You can be disqualified from driving for a minimum of a year. You can be fined. In the worst cases, you can even go to prison
If you are facing a drug driving charge, the best thing to do is to get yourself specialist legal advice right from the start. We can find you this – for FREE and with no obligation.
What Is The Law On Drug Driving In The UK?
Drug driving as an offence in the UK only came into force in 2015. This update made it illegal to drive while impaired with drugs. This includes illegal drugs, of course. But it also includes some prescription medicines that could impair your ability to drive, such as opiate drugs.
There are 17 specified controlled drugs under the drug driving laws. If you are found to be driving, attempting to drive, or in control of a vehicle with more than the set legal limits of these drugs in your system, you are breaking the law.
What Is The Penalty For Drug Driving?
Drug driving is a still new offence. The sentencing guidelines for it are still advisory. However, the Sentencing Council has produced a suggested framework that is usually used. They say that the penalty for drug driving should be:
- A driving ban (for a minimum of 12 months)
- A fine
- Prison time (in the worst cases)
Of course, if you are found guilty, you will also then have a criminal record. This may make it harder to get a job or move to another country. A drug driving offence will stay on your criminal record for 11 years.
How Much Is The Fine For Drug Driving?
The fine for drunk driving is theoretically unlimited. However, the worst fine that a Magistrates’ Court can hand out is £5000.
In practice, the fine for drug driving is usually linked to your income. You can estimate the likely fine by working out your weekly income and adding 50% to it.
Can You Get Jail Time For Drug Driving?
Drug driving is a serious offence and can attract a prison sentence of up to six months. Again, in practice, this will very much depend on the facts of your case and should be unlikely for all but the worst types of this offence.
What Are Aggravating And Mitigating Factors For Drug Driving?
The advisory nature of the sentencing guidelines for drug driving means the penalty you face for being found guilty can be aggravated or mitigated by the circumstances surrounding your case:
The kind of things that can make your drug driving charge more serious or encourage the magistrate to award a harsher penalty might include:
- If you were driving a vehicle for hire (such as a taxi) or a Heavy Goods Vehicle
- If you also had alcohol or other specific drugs in your system
- If you have previous similar convictions
- If you were driving near a school or in a very busy city centre
- If you were driving in very poor visibility
There are also some mitigating factors that might suggest to the magistrate – if presented by a professional advocate on your behalf rather than as a “sob story” – that the drug driving penalty you face should be reduced.
This might include you having driven only a very short distance or having no previous convictions or it being a genuine and provable emergency. You may also have mitigating factors if you suffer from a mental disorder or learning difficulty.
Can You Get Out Of A Drug Driving Charge?
There are many ways it is possible to challenge a drug driving charge even if you are found to have more than the set limits of those controlled substances in your body. For example, you can challenge the Crown Prosecution Service to a costly demonstration of their process.
That’s far from all. Of course, this kind of approach requires a legal specialist – as does knowing whether to plead guilty or not guilty and the best defence you can make in either case.
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