Since the offence of drug driving was introduced in March 2015, we have dealt with enquiries from people who have been arrested for and charged with it on a daily basis. Some are sceptical about the prospects of successfully defending the charges against them and believe that the case against them is cut and dried. The reality is that this rarely the case, there is almost always an opportunity to avoid conviction and it is up to you and us as your legal representatives to take it. We have set out below some real-life case studies involving clients who have recently avoided conviction for drug driving charges.
If you are interested in fighting the charges you may be facing, please call or leave a contact form and we will come back to you as soon as we can.
Mr Sharpe – Driving above limit for THC [CASE DISCONTINUED – OCT 2018]
Mr Sharpe was charged with being above the prescribed limit for cannabis. When he entered a not guilty plea to the charge in July 2018 the case was listed for trial to take place in November 2018. Th prosecution did not serve a full forensic report or the material upon which the forensic findings were based. When the case came before the Court for a preliminary hearing on 9th October, further directions were issued which again the prosecution failed to comply with. A week before the trial the prosecution discontinued the case against our client.
Mr Allan – Driving above limit for THC [ACQUITTED – MAY 2019]
Mr Allan was charged with an offence of drug driving and instructed us to represent him on the basis of a not guilty plea. He entered a not guilty plea in November when our Mr Miller represented him and the case was listed for trial at the end of January. The issue raised on his behalf was whether the blood analysis was reliable. There was insufficient time for the case to be heard in January and the matter was then fixed trial to take place on 14th May 2019. Counsel attended on that date when it transpired that the videolink arrangement for the prosecution’s expert witness had not been set up following the adjournment of the trial on the last occasion. The prosecution applied for an adjournment which was refused and as a result no evidence was offered against Mr Allan.
Miss Hughes – Driving above limit for cocaine [ACQUITTED – APR 2019]
Miss Hughes instructed us to defend her in relation to a charge of drug driving. Her instructions to us revealed that the nurse who attended to obtain a sample of blood from her was unable to do so initially, she was then taken to a cell before then suggesting that the sample should be taken from her hand. A number of issues were raised as part of her defence. The MGDD/B booklet showed that the procedure was stopped when the nurse had been unable to take the sample from her arm. The police had treated it as a “failure to provide” but then obtained the sample from her hand without restarting it or administering a warning of liability to prosecution. The trial was adjourned from its original date in October 2018 due to the prosecution’s failure to serve its SFR/2 and analytical data pack in a timely manner. It was then moved to 22nd March before being vacated and re-fixed to 1st April 2019. Expert reports were obtained in relation to the reliability of the analysis of the blood sample and Miss Hughes’ mental state whilst in custody and how this impacted upon her ability to give consent to the taking of the blood sample. After all the evidence was heard at the trial on 1st April 2019, the Court found that the failure to administer a warning of liability to prosecution before the sample was obtained from Miss Hughes’s arm was fatal to the prosecution case and it was therefore dismissed.
Miss Kay – Drug driving & possession of cannabis [APPEALED AGAINST CONVICTION – MAR 2019]
Miss Kay instructed us to defend her after being charged with drug driving and possession of cannabis. She entered a not guilty plea and after numerous hearings the case was listed for trial. She was convicted against the weight of the evidence which showed that the procedure for obtaining blood was not followed correctly. In particular there was no evidence from the nurse who obtained the sample and both police officers could not confirm whether more than one sample was drawn from Miss Kay’s arm. In spite of this the District Judge convicted Miss Kerr and made a finding of fact which in our view was not open for him to make. An appeal against conviction was lodged and heard in March 2019. After hearing all the prosecution evidence, the Crown Court rightly allowed the appeal against the drug driving conviction.
Mr Hall – Driving whilst above limit for cocaine [CASE DISCONTINUED – APR 2019]
Mr Hall instructed us after a warrant had been issued for his arrest following his non-appearance at Court in relation to a drug driving charge. We arranged for him to attend Court to answer the warrant with a representative. He entered a not guilty plea on that date on the basis that the procedure for obtaining a sample from him at the hospital was taken issue with due to his mental state being impaired and the reliability of the analysis was not accepted. The case was adjourned for a CMH and then listed for trial on 30th November 2019. The prosecution served an expert report and the analytical data pack which was forwarded to our expert who produced a report casting doubt on its reliability and requesting further information. The prosecution discontinued the day before the trial due to the laboratory’s method of analysis being fundamentally flawed – as a result of this the forensic regulator has been informed.
Mr Wilson – Driving above limit for THC [CASE DISCONTINUED – FEB 2019]
This matter concerned a Defendant with severe learning difficulties, ADHD and autism. The nature of Mr Wilson’s defence was based on the fact that even though he had provided a sample of blood which had been found to be over the limit, the analysis should not be admitted due to his lack of understanding of the procedure and inability to provide valid consent particularly as he had been wrongfully denied an appropriate adult whilst in custody. After an expert psychologist’s report had been obtained and served on the prosecution and the Court, the District Judge insisted upon a skeleton argument being prepared within four working days so that the legal basis for our application to exclude the analysis was made clear. After the skeleton argument and accompanying case law had been served the prosecution then discontinued the case. The case was discontinued within eight weeks of the first hearing and prior to a trial having been listed. It was conducted with exceptional skill and dispatch by our Mr Miller which resulted in the swiftest resolution possible.
Mr Langley – Driving above limit for THC [ACQUITTED – MAY 2019]
Mr Langley was charged with drug driving after having been stopped by a PCSO near his son’s house. The Police Community Support Officer stated that he had stopped “to ask for directions” which was plainly untrue. The nurse who obtained the blood sample did not advise the police that he may have been suffering from the effect of drugs. The nurse also did not divide the sample of blood as required. An expert report was obtained with a view to disputing the analytical result which cast some doubt on the findings of the prosecution expert due to some material not being disclosed. At the trial the case was dismissed after Court upheld counsel Mr Phillip Lucas’s submission of no case to answer at the close of the prosecution case. This was primarily on the basis that the sample of blood was not divided as required by s15 (5) Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988.
Mr Sykes – Driving above limit for THC & cocaine [ACQUITTED – JUL 2019]
Mr Sykes instructed us after he had been charged with driving in excess of the limit for benzoylecgonine and cannabis. He instructed us to defend the charge on the basis that he did not accept the results of the analysis were reliable. The trial date was originally listed for 7th May 2019 at Stockport Magistrates’ Court but was re-listed at a hearing in March due to lack of Court time. A few weeks before the trial was due to take place at Manchester Magistrates’ Court on 3rd July 2019 the Court again proposed that the trial was adjourned due to lack of availability of Court legal advisers. We objected to this due to the history of the matter and the previous adjournment and the Court agreed that it would remain on 3rd July 2019. We had repeatedly requested the full analytical data pack from the prosecution but only part of it had been served as the batch results sheet was not disclosed. At the trial the Court agreed that there had been a failure by the prosecution to comply with Part 19.3 (3) (d) Criminal Procedure Rules. Leave to rely on expert evidence was refused by the Court following preliminary legal argument which resulted in the prosecution offering no evidence and the case being dismissed.
Mr Kennedy – Driving above the limit for THC [CASE DISCONTINUED – OCT 2019]
Mr Kennedy was charged with drug driving and assaulting an emergency worker. He instructed us to defend the charge and entered not guilty pleas at the first hearing of the case in September 2019 and elected summary trial when represented by our Mr Miller. The case was listed for a Case Management Hearing to take place on 30th October 2019. There were numerous difficulties faced by the prosecution as there was no evidence of Mr Kennedy having driven any vehicle and the evidence suggested that his ability to understand or consent to the blood sample procedure was significantly impaired. Requests were made for full disclosure following which the prosecution discontinued the case shortly before the Case Management Hearing was due to take place.
Mr Bayford – Drug driving charge [CASE DISCONTINUED – NOV 2019]
Mr Bayford was charged with drug driving. The arresting officer did not administer a roadside drug swab and therefore it was unclear whether the arrest and subsequent blood specimen procedure were lawful. A not guilty plea was entered on his behalf, with issues raised in relation to the procedure and subsequent blood analysis. following which there was a further Case Management Hearing when the trial was listed for 30th August 2019. A few weeks before the trial the prosecution applied to vacate due to a technical issue which occurred at the laboratory which analysed the sample that prevented them from providing the data pack connected to the analysis. Around a week and a half before the trial the case was discontinued by the prosecution due to the fact that the technical issue had still not been resolved.
Mr Stanley – Driving above the prescribed limit for cannabis [CASE DISMISSED – JAN 2020]
Mr Stanley instructed us to defend the charge of driving above the prescribed limit for cannabis. Our Mr Miller attended the first hearing with him in October 2019, when he entered a not guilty plea, a trial was fixed for 10th January 2010 and the District Judge made a number of directions regarding disclosure of expert evidence and associated material. In spite of numerous reminders being sent by us the prosecution did not comply with these directions and eventually requested a postponement of the trial to provide a further opportunity to do so. This application was opposed by us and was listed for 6th January 2020. After hearing from our Mr Miller the District Judge refused. The prosecution offered no evidence as a result of its application being refused.