Before the introduction of the excess drugs offence in March 2015, the only way that a conviction could be secured for a driving offence involving drugs would be if it could be established that driving was impaired by drugs being in a person’s system. The offence of driving whilst unfit through drugs still remains.
Convictions for this offence involve a combination of evidence that driving was impaired, a doctor’s examination, analysis of blood or urine and/or field impairment tests which involve the suspect being asked to perform tasks to establish whether they may be under the influence of drugs.
In practice, since the introduction of the new offence the police are much more likely to charge for the previous offence as a fallback option if for any reason they are unable to obtain a sample of blood or urine from a suspect or, where there is evidence of impairment, they are not sure the sample was lawfully obtained.
As with the “excess drugs” offence, on conviction driving whilst unfit carries a mandatory disqualification of at least 12 months.
In such situations it is vital that specialist legal advice is obtained to safeguard against a criminal record and disqualification from driving.