From the 10th April 2015 new changes to drink driving laws come into force which are expected to have a monumental impact upon suspected drink drivers.

Firstly the right (commonly known as the statutory option) for a suspected drink driver to have a blood/urine test is abolished (except for medical reasons).  Drivers who give a breath reading at the police station of 35 microgrammes or less would be under the the legal limit in 100 millilitres of breath and therefore released.  Where the reading was above the legal limit in breath but was 50 microgrammes or less, the suspected drink driver would have been offered a blood/urine test.  It is commonly believed that if the correct procedures are followed then a urine/blood test is more accurate.

The problem for the police and the prosection was that correct procedures for taking blood/urine weren't always followed.

The second fundamental change is abolishing the need for a preliminary roadside test.  The reading of the preliminary test at the roadside never previously counted. Upon a positive reading, the driver was arrested and conveyed to the police station for a formal breath test.  This often led to delays of an hour or more.  In the meantime the alocohol level in the breath/urine/blood continued to diminish.  Under the new drink driving laws drivers can tested at the roadside without needing to be conveyed to the police station.  The reading at the roadside will be the basis for any prosecution.  The readings will be higher which will lead to drink drivers falling into the higher categories of the sentencing guidelines for drink driving.

As specialist drink driving solicitors it will be all the more important to see specialist legal advice due to the higher risk of custodial sentence/community orders, lengthier disqualifications etc.  When we consider the prosecution papers we can advise whether the correct roadside procedure was followed.  Some clients may even give readings 'off the scale' due to post-incident consumption of alcohol.

Our managing director Simon Morton recently did an interview question & answers with ContractHireAndLeasing on the new offence drug driving from 2nd March 2015 which was entitled "Why the new drug driving laws are relevant to every UK motorist?"

Well worth a read in our opinion


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From 2nd March 2015 The new drugs offence under the Crime and Courts Act (2013) will make it illegal to drive with one or more specified drugs in the body above the specified limit for that drug.  Conviction could result in motorists receiving a minimum one year driving ban, a fine of up to £5000 & up to one year in prison. They will have a criminal record and their driving licence will state that they been convicted for drug-driving.

The new offence includes not only illegal drugs, but also 8 common prescription drugs including clonazepam, diazepam, lorazepam, flunitrazepam, oxazepam, temazepam, methadone & morphine.  You can drive after taking these drugs if, but only if you have been prescribed them, advised & followed the directions of the healthcare professional and providing they they did not cause you to be unfit to drive.

As a result even law abiding motorists could next month suddenly find themselves the wrong side of the law if they are not taken in line with doctors direction.  Motorists who take prescribed medication are advised to urgently check with their general practitioner. There will be a medical defence if a driver has been taking medication as directed and is found to be over the drug drive limit, but where their ability was not impaired.

There has been some, but insufficient publicity regarding the drugs changes which probably will have the biggest impact upon road side tests since breath tests were first introduced.  Despite being cash-strapped and cost-cutting police forces however are believed to have been purchasing roadside testing equipment in advance.  Motorists who fail the roadside test will be taken to the police station for a blood test to confirm the presence of drugs in the body.

Just as with other criminal offences, motorists would also face increased insurance premiums, difficulties in travel to countries like the USA and effect upon ones employment.

The Criminal Courts Solicitors’ Association (CLSA) and the London Criminal Courts Solicitors’ Association (LCCSA) currently engaged in challenging by way of judicial review the Ministry of Justices' (MOJ) decision to plough on with the legal aid crime duty tender process. The Law Society is also proposing a similar but separate action.

If you haven't already you can donate to support the action.

You can read the tweets from Day One and Day Two.

Day three begins Monday 19th January 2015.

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