• Road Traffic Offences

Driving Whilst Unfit

This is generally referred to as ‘drug driving,’ and is prosecuted under s5 (a) of the Road Traffic Act 1988.

This section of the Act makes it an offence to:

  • Drive;
  • Attempt to Drive, or

  • Be in charge of a motor vehicle

If you have over the prescribed limit of one of 16 drugs in your system, (listed in the Drug Driving (Specified Limits) (England and Wales) Regulations 2014).This covers recreational (illegal) drugs as well as prescription and over- the-counter medicines. Each drug has its own set limit (with illegal drugs having the lowest limits). There is a possible defence, which requires the defendant to show that the drugs were prescribed and they had followed the advice of the prescriber (e.g. a doctor).

It is up to the defence to provide evidence and if they do, the court must assume that the defence is satisfied- although it is still open to the prosecution to show beyond reasonable doubt that it is not. If you are found guilty of driving or attempting to drive subject to s.5 (a), you can face an unlimited fine and/or six months’ imprisonment.

The court must endorse the offender’s licence and disqualify them from driving for at least 12 months. Even if you are simply ‘in charge of a vehicle’ in the same condition, you face a £2,500 fine and three months in prison. (It is important to remember that the most serious penalty relates to death by dangerous driving when under the influence of drugs. This penalty is the same also for drink-driving, and that is imprisonment of up to 14 years).

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