As we are or should be aware, drink driving is illegal if you’re caught over the limit, but are you also aware that any positive swipe for drugs will also see you with a ban?
There are very tiny limits for drug driving, and depending on the drugs in your system, you could be looking at a ban for at least a year or 18 months. Each offence is dealt with separately, so if you have two drugs or more in your system could lead to a double up of a ban. If the medicines you have taken are prescription, you will need to prove you were unaware of the driving recommendations while taking the medication. Checking your medication before you drive, goes without saying, is imperative.
It has been shown that up to one in eight drivers are over the limit with a week-long study in the Lancashire region, so chances are that it is similar all over the UK. Drink or drug driving can kill not only yourself but other road users and pedestrians, and you must understand that your vehicle, if driven over the limit, can be a deadly weapon. It is no wonder that drink and drug driving has very high and life-altering penalties.
The legal limit in England, Wales and Northern Ireland for driving with alcohol in the body is 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 ml of blood or 35 micrograms of alcohol per 100 ml of breath. In Scotland, the limit is 50 milligrams of alcohol per 100 ml of blood or 22 micrograms of alcohol per 100 ml of breath. Alcohol affects everyone differently, and any amount can impair your driving ability. The only safe option is to avoid alcohol entirely if you’re driving, as just one drink could see you over the limit.
It is essential to know that your body can not get rid of alcohol quickly, and trying to sober up by drinking coffee or taking a shower may make you feel less drunk, but it will not be enough to bring down levels of alcohol for you to drive legally. Only time can do this.
Drink driving penalties
- Imprisonment penalties from 3 months and up to life
- Facing a driving ban for at least a year (3 years if convicted twice in 10 years) 5 years
- An unlimited fine
- Taking an extended test before you get your licence reinstated
Recreational drugs are the worst drugs to have in your system, such as cocaine or marijuana, as there is very little excuse for the drug to be in your system unless you made the simple decision to take and then drive. However, many prescription drugs can also trigger a positive drug swipe.
You must read any material that comes with your prescription medications or check with your doctor if you need to drive, and then they can issue a different medication to make sure you are legal while driving. There is no excuse for driving over the limit with prescription medications, as you should always be aware of any drugs in your system. Below are some prescription drugs that will impact your legal ability to drive safely. You must always talk to your GP if you are unsure.
- amphetamine, dexamphetamine or selegiline
- morphine or opiate and opioid-based drugs, codeine, tramadol, or fentanyl
If you have been prescribed any of the drugs listed, you may still be able to drive depending on the dosage, but you must keep evidence of this in case you are pulled over and tested. Your doctor should be able to provide you with a letter that will help to cover you. A drug swipe at the side of the road will only show positive or negative for certain drugs. Even if you can drive legally with your doctor’s permission, it may still end up in a court situation, so it is worthwhile to find out exactly how the prescribed drug will affect your driving. The limit set for each drug is different, and for illegal recreational drugs, the limits set are extremely low.
Penalties for drug-driving
If convicted of drug driving, you could receive the following:
- a minimum 1-year driving ban per drug in your system
- an unlimited fine
- up to 6 months in prison, or life if causing death
- a lifelong criminal record
Your licence will show you have been convicted of drug driving. This will last for 11 years, and life imprisonment is the highest penalty when causing death by driving while under the influence of banned drugs.
Other problems created by a drink or drug-driving ban
As well as not having the option to drive for an extended period, many other life-altering issues come with a conviction.
- your car insurance costs will increase significantly
- job loss, especially if you need to drive for work
- you may have issues travelling to other countries like the USA
- issues with visiting children or older relatives that depend on you
- a drink driving conviction will stay on your licence for up to 11 years
There really is no way around a drink or drug driving conviction, and the only way you can definitely be sure of not getting caught is to refrain from taking drugs or drinking before attempting to drive. It is also essential to know that certain drugs can stay in your system for much longer than alcohol. In the winter, there are always many more drink and drug driving campaigns, so make sure you don’t get caught out. If in doubt – leave it out!