What To Do If You Are Caught Drug Driving


The Law Of… Driving Under The Influence Of Drugs

What do you do if you been caught drug driving? Head of Motoring Offences, Julie Robertson, explains the law, the penalties and what you need to do if you find yourself accused.

What Is Drug Driving?

Drug driving, put simply, is driving under the influence of drugs, whether legal or illegal.

You are breaking the law if you get behind the wheel and are unfit to drive due to a prescription or over-the-counter medicine, or the consumption of illegal substances. It is also against the law to drive with a certain amount of illegal drugs in your bloodstream, whether it affects your ability at the wheel or not.

If it is alleged you were driving under the influence of a drug, you will face criminal prosecution. The potential penalties are the same regardless of its legality.

Drug driving is a serious offence which can put both your livelihood and freedom at risk. If you are arrested, it is important to seek expert legal advice from an independent motoring offence solicitor at the earliest opportunity.

What Happens When You Are Caught Drink Driving?

Our guide explains what happens and what you should do if you are caught drug driving.

Caught Drug Driving – At The Roadside

  • When driving, if directed to do so by a police officer you are legally obliged to pull over as soon as it is safe. Failing to stop for a police officer is a criminal offence.
  • The police have the right to stop you if they have 'reasonable' cause to suspect you may be driving under the influence of drugs.
  • Once stopped, the police must inform you of their reasons for pulling you over.
  • If they suspect you have taken either legal or illegal drugs, which have affected your ability to drive, they will either carry out a 'field impairment test' or request a sample of saliva:
    • Field Impairment Test – A roadside assessment comprised of a number of tests. These include walking and turning in a straight line, measurement of the pupils and the Romberg Test (standing still and tilting head back for a required amount of time).
    • Saliva swab – Nicknamed the 'drugalyser', the mouth swab checks for cannabis or cocaine and can detect recent usage.
  • If the swab test returns a positive, or, following the impairment assessment, the police officer suspects you are unfit to drive through drug intake, you will be arrested and taken to the police station.

Caught Drug Driving – At The Station

  • If you have been arrested for drug driving and taken to the police station, you will be required to take a blood or urine test. This is known as an evidential specimen, the results of which are admissible in any subsequent court case.
  • It is an offence to refuse or fail to provide an evidential specimen of blood or urine, which carries a driving ban and an unlimited fine. It is also within the power of the court to impose a 6 month prison sentence for refusing or failing to provide a sample. It is possible, given the right circumstances, to have a 'reasonable excuse' for not providing a sample accepted by the court. A professional motoring offence solicitor would be able to advise you on this.
  • Your blood or urine sample will be sent away for analysis and, so long as you are not being held on any other offence, you will be bailed without charge and instructed to return to the station at a later date. The results will be made available then.
  • If the results confirm an illegal amount of drugs to have been in your system, you will be charged with drug driving and bailed to appear at Magistrates' Court at a later date. This is a criminal charge so you must attend the court in person. A warrant for your arrest will be issued if you fail to appear at court when ordered to. Under the Bail Act 1976 this is also a criminal offence, punishable by a prison term.

What are The Drug Driving Limits?

There are 17 drugs which fall under the drug driving legislation introduced to England and Wales in 2015. Of these, 8 are legal and 8 illegal. A separate category for amphetamine covers both illegal and prescribed usage.

The drug driving limits (micrograms per litre of blood) are as follows:

Legal medication

Illegal substances





Valium (Diazepam)


















Crystal meth











The limit for amphetamine (sometimes used legally to treat narcolepsy or ADHD) is 250 micrograms per litre of blood.

If you are taking legally obtained medication, you should always stick to the prescribed dosage and follow any recommendations regarding driving.

What Are The Penalties For Drug Driving?

If you are found guilty of drug driving, the possible sentences depend upon the charge.

Refusing To Provide A Specimen Of Blood Or Urine For Evidential Analysis:

  • Maximum prison sentence of 6 months
  • An unlimited fine
  • A minimum 1 year driving ban (3 years if second conviction in 10 years).

Conviction for Drug Driving:

  • Maximum prison sentence of 6 months
  • An unlimited fine
  • A minimum 1 year driving ban
  • A criminal record.

An endorsement will also be placed upon your driving licence, denoting your conviction for drug driving. It will remain there for 11 years.

Any leniency in sentencing will depend upon how strong a case and what mitigating circumstances your solicitor argues in your favour. To secure the best possible outcome, it is important you acquire the services of a professional motoring offence solicitor, who will know how best to present your case to a court.

Obtaining Legal Advice For Drug Driving

A charge of drug driving doesn't necessarily mean you will collect a ban, receive a custodial sentence or ultimately lose your livelihood. To increase your chances of a more sympathetic hearing from the court, you should speak to Simpson Millar's Motoring Defences department.

Our team has a firm grounding in defending drug driving cases and proven experience of securing acquittals and more lenient sentencing for those accused of the offence. Their expertise in mounting successful defences for motorists caught drug driving, allows the team to find procedural faults, which can see cases thrown out of court, where other, less specialised solicitors may miss them.

With considerable knowledge of the finer points of motoring and drug driving law, our solicitors are always prepared to advise on whether a technicality or loophole defence can be argued, which could result in an acquittal, significantly reducing the impact a drug driving charge will have on your life.

We offer a friendly, professional service and we will never judge you. If you have been caught drug driving, we are here to help.

Get expert advice and informed representation for your drug driving charge. Contact Simpson Millar today.

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