Drug driving


Drug Driving Specialist Solicitors

Our lawyers are experts in road traffic and motoring offences. We are based in Newcastle upon Tyne and South Shields, and offer representation throughout the North East. Our solicitors have many years’ experience and are best ranked in the North East. Call now for immediate advice.

A new drug driving law came into force on 2 March 2015 making it easier for the Police to convict those driving under the influence of drugs. Prior to this, the Prosecution were required to prove that driving was impaired due to the presence of drugs. This was difficult for the Prosecution to prove and resulted in a high level of acquittals. In accordance with the new law, the Prosecution are only required to establish that a driver has in their system one of the 17 controlled drugs above a specified limit, removing the requirement to prove that driving was impaired.

The 17 controlled drugs are: –

  • Benzoylecgonine
  • Cocaine
  • Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (cannabis)
  • Ketamine
  • Lysergic acid diethylamide
  • Methylamphetamine
  • Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA)
  • 6-monoacetylmorphine (heroin)
  • Clonazepam
  • Diazepam
  • Flunitrazepam
  • Lorazepam
  • Methadone
  • Morphine e.g. codeine, tramadol or fentanyl
  • Oxazepam
  • Temazepam
  • Amphetamine e.g. dexamphetamine or selegiline

If you seem impaired by either your manner of driving or your appearance, the Police will firstly check for alcohol. If you pass the roadside breathalyser, the Police can then use a roadside drug kit to test for cannabis or cocaine. The Police may also ask you to do a “field impairment assessment” which is a series of tests, such as walking in a straight line. If you fail any of these tests, you will be arrested and taken to a Police Station.

Potential Defences

Unlike alcohol, the prescribed limit varies depending on the type of drug in your system. It is therefore extremely important that you obtain legal advice prior to being interviewed by the Police to establish at the earliest opportunity whether you have a defence available to you.

We will assess the reliability of any specimens taken by the Police and review your case for any procedural difficulties as this may give you a defence.

You may also have a defence to drug driving if you are above the limit but have taken prescribed medication in accordance with the advice of your doctor or patient information leaflet, provided that your driving has not been impaired.

You may be able to argue special reasons, e.g. if your drink had been spiked or you drove a short distance in the case of an emergency. If successful, you could avoid any disqualification from driving although you would still be guilty of the offence as drug driving is one of strict liability.

You should therefore seek legal advice as soon as possible to assess whether any of these defences are available to you.


The penalties for drug driving are similar to that for drink driving. There is a minimum 12-month disqualification from driving and an unlimited fine. You may even receive up to 6 months in custody. Further, if you are convicted of drug driving, you will receive a criminal record and an endorsement on your driving licence showing the conviction for 11 years. Additional implications of being convicted of drug driving are that your insurance premiums will increase, a conviction will show on any DBS check for employment purposes and it could affect entry to some countries such as Australia and the USA.

Drivers Beware – The penalty for causing death by careless driving under the influence of drugs is a prison sentence of up to 14 years.

We understand the importance of your driving licence – whether you wish to challenge the drug driving charge or reduce the punishment imposed, contact us for further advice now.