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Drug Driving Offences

The offence of driving with drugs in excess of the prescribed limit makes it an offence to drive with anything more a very small amount of illegal drugs in the body

On the 2 March 2015, new legislation came into force making it illegal to drive with certain levels of drugs in your system. Section 56 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013 inserted s.5A into the Road Traffic Act 1988 making it an offence to drive with a blood concentration in excess of a specified limit for a specified controlled drug.

On this date, eight generally prescription and eight illicit drugs were added into new regulations that came into force in England and Wales. Regulations on amphetamine came into force on 14 April 2015. The limit in respect of the permitted level of each illicit and prescription drugs are contained in the following table. The limit for each drug is measured in microgrammes per litre of blood.

Table of drugs and limits

‘Illegal’ drugs (‘accidental exposure’ – zero tolerance approach) Threshold limit in microgrammes per litre of blood (µg/L)
benzoylecgonine 50µg/L
cocaine 10µg/L
delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (cannabis) 2µg/L
ketamine 20µg/L
lysergic acid diethylamide 1µg/L
methylamphetamine 10µg/L
Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) 10µg/L
6-monoacetylmorphine (heroin) 5µg/L
‘Medicinal’ drugs (risk based approach) Threshold limit in blood
clonazepam 50µg/L
diazepam 550µg/L
flunitrazepam 300µg/L
lorazepam 100µg/L
methadone 500µg/L
morphine 80µg/L
oxazepam 300µg/L
temazepam 1,000µg/L
Separate approach (to balance its risk) Threshold limit in blood
amphetamine 250µg/L

The threshold limits with regard to the offence of drug driving are infinitely lower than those in respect of the offence of drink driving.

There are currently no set Sentencing Guidelines in respect of the offence of Drug Driving. The guidance issued by the Magistrates’ Courts Sentencing Council in November 2016 advises Courts to impose a minimum 12 month driving disqualification for a first-time offender.

The length of the disqualification that the Court will impose will range from 12 – 36 months and in more serious cases, the Court can impose a community penalty (ie unpaid work) or even up to 6 months in prison.

Unlike an offence of Drink Driving, there is no Rehabilitation Course available to reduce any disqualification period.

Consideration must be given to the fact that if you have a previous drink or drug driving conviction within the last ten-years, then the minimum disqualification will be three years.

If a Court considers that there are aggravating factors that make your case more serious, for instance a collision or evidence of poor driving, then the Court can impose an increased disqualification period beyond the minimum 12 months.

To prove the presence of a drug in your system, a medical practitioner will perform a simple blood test at the police station to test if you are above the limit.

This is a relatively new procedure and mistakes and oversights do occur, which if identified and proven can prove fatal to the Prosecution’s case against you.

We can advise as to the procedural requirements of obtaining the blood or urine sample from you as the process requires strict adherence to procedure by those conducting it. If we consider that there is a procedural issue with your case, then it may well be that the case against you cannot be proven.

As an example, if your consent was not sought in respect of the blood sample requested from you, then it may be that the case against you will fail.

With our vast experience in respect of these cases, we will discuss your case with you and advise you with regard to all aspects of it and will provide you with a full evaluation of your case as to any defence(s) available and advice on the realistic prospects of them.

Our objective is to put you first and if we do not consider that there is a defence available to you, then we will advise you as to the most appropriate approach in order to obtain the best outcome for you.

Levins are able to travel nationwide to represent you. Please see our Fixed Fee guide.

Our motor law solicitor team cover all areas including Liverpool, Manchester, Lancashire, Cheshire, Clwyd. We specialise in all motor offences including drink driving offences, drug driving offences, speeding offences, penalty point, failing to stop offences, using your mobile phone while driving offences. Contact us for a free initial telephone advice session with an experienced motor solicitor on 0151 480 5777 or email