We often have calls from people who might have been charged with an excess cannabis offence (Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol - THC) who can’t understand why cannabis remains in their system days after the use. There is a ‘zero-tolerance’ approach to the presence of illicit drugs in your system whilst driving meaning even the smallest of traces that remain in your system a few days later is likely to take you over the legal limit.
Definitive sentencing guidelines for this offence are yet to be published. The Sentencing Council have released a ‘guidance only’ document to assist the court with determining sentence however it is still open for interpretation until definitive guidelines are introduced. The ‘guidance’ indicates that if you enter a guilty plea or are convicted after trial it will result in:
- Unlimited fine, a community order or imprisonment of up to six months
- A mandatory driving disqualification of at least 12 months (36 months for the second relevant offence in ten years)
As is the case with drink driving allegations, there is a perception that, unless you can identify an obvious and immediate issue with those basic ingredients of the offence, such as it was not you driving the vehicle, or you did use a drug but that was after the incident of driving, then you will have no alternative but to plead guilty to this offence. This is not always the case.
Why choose our drug driving solicitors?
At Stephensons we have a highly specialist and experienced team of lawyers who can help identify some of the less obvious issues in a case that can lead to advancing a defence to help you keep you licence and avoid a criminal conviction. It is important that you are given the right options for you given your specific circumstances. A generic, scatter gun approach to challenging everything can mean that the case takes a direction that can be harmful to the prospects of success. Where genuine issues arise they should be pursued if it is in our client’s best interests. We can help identify issues that can lead to your defence. Successfully defending a charge of drug driving relies on us using our expert knowledge of the following areas:
Police station procedure - drug driving offences
This offence, like drink driving, is one of the few where you as the defendant, by being asked to give a specimen of blood, are being required to participate in and consent to provide evidence that can lead to you being prosecuted. The law is structured so that this evidence is obtained in the correct and legal way. Should it be established that vital elements of police procedure have been overlooked or misunderstood by the police officers then legal authority in both legislation and case law supports an argument we can make on your behalf to say that the prosecution cannot rely on that blood specimen. In such a case, you will be acquitted.
As is the case with drink driving, to get to the stage where the police have what they deem to be sufficient evidence to justify a charge there are a number of different stages that have to be dealt with and several different people can often be involved. We can consider everything that happens from the moment you and are first approached by the police officer up to what happens when you are released and even beyond. The following stages can be considered to give us a full insight into any potential flaws in the prosecution case:
- Evidence of driving;
- Roadside arrest process;
- Informing and provision of your rights and entitlements when taken to the police station;
- Blood ‘procedure’ process carried out by a police officer at the police station;
- The process of taking a specimen of blood from you by a healthcare professional and your involvement in that;
- How the blood specimen is treated after it has been provided; and
- What happens to that specimen after you leave the police station.
Reliability of the analysis
What happens to your specimen after you have left the police station is just as important as how you are dealt with while you are at the police station. When you are released to return and answer your bail the process does not stop there for the prosecution. They need to send that specimen to be analysed by an accredited laboratory of Forensic Analysts using accredited methods. Police forces use private laboratories to carry out the analysis of your specimen and those laboratories must ensure that they stick by the processes and strict rules regarding how those specimens are dealt with. If, during the course of our investigations it cannot be proven that they have then the specimen cannot be relied upon and you will avoid a conviction and a ban.
For advice and assistance in relation to an accusation of drug driving contact our specialist team on 01616 966 229, alternatively complete our online enquiry form and a member of the team will contact you directly.