Caught Drug Driving?
We now see more drug driving prosecutions than ever before. This is due to the law change in 2015 that made it a strict liability offence to be above the specified limit for either one of 17 different drugs.
Following a report from a panel of experts and a drug driving consultation the government decided to take:
- a zero tolerance approach to 8 drugs most associated with illegal use, with limits set at a level where any claims of accidental exposure can be ruled out
- a road safety risk based approach to 8 drugs most associated with medical uses
- a separate approach to amphetamine that balances its legitimate use for medical purposes against its abuse
If stopped by the police, they no longer have to show any impairment of your driving. Instead, it is likely you will face a roadside ‘drug swipe’ which gives the police evidence of an offence, albeit this is an indicator and not an evidential reading.
You will then have blood taken at a police station, be bailed, awaiting confirmation from the laboratory as to the results.
What are the drug driving limits?
1. Benzoylecgonine (is a metabolite of cocaine) – 50 micrograms per litre of blood (µg/L)
2. Cocaine – 10µg/L
3. Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (cannabis) – 2µg/L
4. Ketamine – 20µg/L
5. LSD – 1µg/L
6. Methylamphetamine – 10µg/L
7. MDMA (ecstasy) – 10µg/L
8. Heroin and diamorphine – 5µg/L
1. Clonazepam – 50µg/L
2. Diazepam (anti-anxiety) – 550µg/L
3. Flunitrazepam (sedative) – 300µg/L
4. Lorazepam (anti-anxiety) – 100µg/L
5. Methadone (heroin substitute) – 500µg/L
6. Morphine (pain relief) – 80µg/L
7. Oxazepam (anti-anxiety) – 300µg/L
8. Temazepam (anti-anxiety and sedative) – 1,000µg/L
9. Amphetamines (used for conditions such as ADHD) – 250µg/L
Penalties for drug driving
If you’re convicted of drug driving you’ll get:
- a minimum 1 year driving ban
- an unlimited fine
- up to 6 months in prison
- a criminal record
Your driving licence will also show you’ve been convicted for drug driving. This will last for 11 years.
The penalty for causing death by dangerous driving under the influence of drugs is a prison sentence of up to 14 years.
If you have been charged with any such offence it is important that you take immediate legal and do not wait until the first hearing; criminal procedural matters are time sensitive and the prosecution should be put on notice of any issues forthwith.