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Drug Driving First Offence UK – What Does It Mean?

Drug Driving First Offence UK – What Does It Mean?

A drug driving first offence in the UK only very slightly mitigates the penalty you may face if found guilty. Read on to discover more about drug driving first offence UK and what it means.

Make no mistake, this is a very serious charge. If you have been arrested for driving under the influence of drugs, the first thing to do is to source experienced legal representation from a specialist drink and drug driving solicitor as soon as possible.

Reach out to one of our specialist drug driving solicitors today – for FREE and with no obligation – by giving us a call on 033 03411690 or by completing a Free Online Enquiry with zero commitment to use us.

It is also worth understanding exactly how this offence is treated and the potential consequences you could be facing:

What Is Drug Driving?

In the UK, it is illegal to drive if you have more than set levels of certain drugs (some illegal but also some legal medications) in your blood – even if this does not impair your ability to drive. This is a form of “dangerous driving” offence that is often referred to as “drug driving”.

It is a surprise to many people that of the 17 controlled substances that are listed in the relevant drug driving legislation, some (including diazepam and lorazepam, used to treat anxiety orders) are actually legal prescription medications.

Each of those 17 controlled drugs has a different legal limit for how much you can have in your system. These are often set to the lowest possible level where your ability to drive might start to become impaired. However, they do also rule out passive smoking as a cause.

If you are found to be over the legal limit of any of these legal or illegal substances, you may be guilty of drug driving.

Testing For Drug Driving – Providing A Sample To The Police

If the police have reason to believe your ability to drive might be impaired, possibly because you have taken drugs, they may pull you over.

They may then administer what is called a FIT (Field Impairment Test). This involves the classic coordination tests like walking in a straight line and touching your nose.

The police may also require you to provide a sample for a roadside screening kit. These tests can usually only pick up cocaine and cannabis. If the police still suspect you are over the legal limit of a controlled substance, they may require you to accompany them to the station for a blood test.

It is important to note that it is an equally serious offence to refuse to provide any samples of blood, urine, or saliva when required to do so by the police. The penalty for refusing these requests is just as serious as the offences themselves, making it normally sensible to provide the samples.

Blood test results take a while to come through though, so after you have been tested, the police may release you if you are not being charged with any other offences. This may be the situation you are in now.

Will I Go To Jail For Drug Driving?

Even a first-time drug driving offence in the UK carries a potential penalty of up to six months in prison.

Whether or not you will be sentenced to actual “time” will be down to the specific circumstances of your case. Technically speaking, there aren’t yet any set sentencing rules for drug driving. There are, however, official suggested guidelines.

These list a number of mitigating and aggravating factors that might apply to your case. For instance:

  • Aggravating factors – might include a history of past similar offences, also being over the alcohol limit, or speeding through a crowded city centre at the same time. These might make a magistrate more likely to view even a first offence as severe.
  • Mitigating factors – might include that you drove in an emergency for a very short distance. The magistrate might mitigate your penalty accordingly, but still usually has to impose a driving ban if you are found guilty.

Do You Lose Your License For Drug Driving?

If you are found guilty of drug driving, you will receive a minimum one-year driving ban. This may be raised to as many as three years if you have another relevant recent offence on your record.

What Are The Other Penalties For Drug Driving?

In addition to a mandatory driving ban and potential prison time if found guilty, drug driving carries several other penalties too:

  1. An unlimited fine – of up to £5000, the maximum a magistrate’s court can bestow.
  2. A criminal record – that may make it difficult to find another job or move to certain countries.
  3. A penalty mark on your license – lasting for 11 years.

All in all, drug driving – even a first offence – is a serious crime that carries serious penalties with it. Your best chance of seeing the most successful outcome with this sort of case is expert legal advice. So, why not see if we can provide it for you?

Contact Us

Reach out to one of our specialist drug driving solicitors today – for FREE and with no obligation – by giving us a call on 033 03411690 or by completing a Free Online Enquiry with zero commitment to use us.

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Nigel Murray

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