Drug Driving

Under Section 4(1) of the Road Traffic Act 1988 it is an offence if a person drives or attempts to drive a motor vehicle on a road or other public place whilst unfit through drink or drugs. Similarly, Section 4(2) makes it offence if the person is in charge of a motor vehicle when under influence of drink or drugs.

It is estimated that there are around 400 drivers being arrested each month for drug driving.

It is important to distinguish between “attempting to drive” and being “in charge”. An attempt must be “more than merely preparatory” to the act of driving. In Mason v DPP [2009] EWHC 2198 (Admin), a car owner had been robbed at knifepoint as he opened his car door. The robber drove off in the car. The car owner phoned the police who told him to come to the station and make a report. When he did, the officer smelt alcohol on his breath and arrested him for attempting to drive whilst over the limit. He later blew 68ug in breath. The Court held that merely opening a car door was merely preparatory to the act of driving, and not an actual attempt to drive it.

A person remains in charge of their vehicle until they have transferred control to another, for example by handing over the key. Equally, if the person was some distance from the car, in such circumstances that they had no intention of re-asserting control of the vehicle.

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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