Drug Driving Defence
There is a defence available for anyone charged under section 5A of The Road Traffic Act 1988  (driving, attempting to drive or being in charge of a motor vehicle whilst having a specified controlled drug in their system, the proportion of which exceeds the maximum legal limit for that particular drug).
It is a defence to the new drug driving laws, if a person can prove that:
- The specified controlled drug in their system had been prescribed or supplied to them for medical or dental purposes; and
- They took the drug in accordance with any directions given to them by the person who prescribed or supplied the drug to them and in accordance with any accompanying instructions (so far as consistent with any such directions) supplied by the manufacturer or distributor of the drug; and
- The possession of the drug immediately before taking it was not illegal under section 5(1) of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971  (restriction of possession of controlled drugs).
The above defence is not available if a persons actions were:
- Contrary to any advice about the amount of time that should elapse between taking the drug and driving a motor vehicle, provided by either the person who prescribed or supplied the drug or included in the accompanying instructions of the drug (patient information leaflet).
In charge of a motor vehicle defence
Anyone charged with being in charge of a motor vehicle with a specified controlled drug in their system, the proportion of which exceeds the maximum legal limit for that particular drug will have a defence to the charge if they can prove that at the time the alleged offence was committed the circumstance were such that there was no likelihood of them driving the vehicle while it remained likely they would exceed the legal limit.
Motorists can still be charged under section 4 of The Road Traffic Act 1988 (Driving, or being in charge, when under the influence of drugs) even if the above defence applies or an offence under section 5A has not been committed.
This is because an offence under section 4 is a separate offence and does not require a motorist to be over any legal limit, a section 4 offence applies if a motorists ability to drive, at the time of the alleged offence, was impaired due to drink or drugs in their system.
Reference: Road Traffic Act 1988 Misuse of Drugs Act 1971