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25May2016

Drug Driving and Hay Fever

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Conor Johnstone

Attention Hay-fever sufferers

Since the introduction of the new drug driving laws last year (2nd March 2015), the number of motorists charged with drug driving has increased by around 140%. Naturally, one would assume that those charged with this serious offence have taken illegal drugs. But this is not necessarily the case. Many of those convicted of the offence were taking prescription medication at the time.

As we enter the summer months, the new drug driving laws could also impact the 1 in 3 motorists that suffer from hay fever. Hay fever medication can cause drowsiness, lethargy and other impairing side effects, making you a potential law-breaker under the new section.

If you were taking prescription medication at the time, you may have a full defence to the allegation. The following defences may be raised to a drug driving allegation:

  • The ‘medical defence’
  • Other defences

The medical defence

This defence applies where;

1. a person has taken a drug that is prescribed or supplied for medical or dental purposes
2. a person has taken a drug in accordance with any directions given by the person who prescribed it
3. the accused person’s possession of the drug was not unlawful under section 5(1) of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971

The obligation falls on the defence to establish an evidential basis, such as a prescription or statement for a doctor. It is then for the CPS to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the defence cannot be relied upon. This is extremely difficult, particularly where documentary evidence is put forward by the defence.

Even if you are successful with your defence, this does not mean that you got off ‘scot-free’. If the CPS are still satisfied that they can prove ‘impairment’, they may charge you with an offence under Section 4 of the Road Traffic Act 1988, resulting in a minimum 12 month disqualification if convicted.

If you have been accused of drug driving it is crucial that you contact M.A.J. Law immediately.
We may be able to take steps to prevent the CPS from charging you with additional offences (or even charging you at all).

Other defences

M.AJ. Law has developed a number of defence strategies and technical legal arguments to win drug driving cases. Our complex defences usually relate to the four key defence areas;

  • Procedure
  • Consent
  • Continuity
  • Disclosure

For a full list of the legal limits for driving with prescription medication in your system, visit our dedicated drug driving page here.

If you would like to discuss your drug driving case with one of our specialist solicitors, please call:

0151 422 8020

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Conor Johnstone

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