MAJ Law are a market leading drug driving defence firm. Our team of specialist solicitors have years of experience in representing clients throughout courts in England and Wales. We are able to explain in straightforward terms what is likely to happen in your case.
We can help you with:
- Drug Driving Loopholes
- Finding fault with the police procedure
- The limits
- What to do next
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Have you been caught drug driving?
We have successfully defended hundreds of drug driving cases
In spring 2012, the Department for Transport convened an expert Panel to provide technical advice related to a new offence on drug driving. Three years later the offence was introduced. This made it an offence to drive a vehicle on a road or public place whilst over a prescribed limit. The Government intended to come down hard on drug drivers and therefore introduced a ‘zero tolerance’ approach. However, by understanding the law fully, and taking advantage of inaccuracies in police procedures, M.A.J Law Solicitors have continued to avoid convictions for clients charged with drug driving.
Forcing the Police to take no further action before your blood test results
If you have been released under investigation and are waiting for your results, we may be able to force the police to take no further action. By identifying errors in police procedure early-on, we can begin placing pressure on the police. Many of our clients never end up in court.
We've produced a Case Study explaining how we use the law and its technicalities to win cases before anyone else.
A Postal Requisition - 'Released Under Investigation'
Most drug driving offences start by way of a postal requisition. This means that you will spend a period of time 'under investigation' or on police bail. Some cases can take months to reach court. This is your 'window of opportunity' to gain a strategic advantage over the police and CPS. We may even be able to stop the police laying charges.
If you are currently waiting for the results of your blood test, it is important that you call us immediately. M.A.J Law regularly have cases dropped prior to first court hearings (even if the results are over the limit)
If you have received a postal requisition, please call us immediately.
Your First Court Hearing
If you have been charged and given a date to attend court, we may be able to obtain the evidence against you before the hearing. This will give us a head-start on the CPS, allowing us to consider all available defences (procedural, legal and factual) before the CPS review its file.
If you would like to discuss your options before the court hearing, please get in touch.
The drug driving penalty will result in a ban of 12 – 36 months, community service or a 6 months prison sentence.
Drug Driving Defences
Following the introduction of the new laws, there have been practical problems for the police and CPS. Many police forces still do not have the required drug kits for roadside use and many police officers have never been trained to conduct the correct procedures. The outcome is the creation of a serious offence that isn’t being correctly enforced, investigated or prosecuted. This can be used to your advantage.
Even a basic understanding of the new law can help you avoid a conviction.
- The new law only applies to blood samples. If the drug has been measured in urine or saliva then you should not be convicted because there is no prescribed limit in place.
- Only a limited number of illegal drugs are covered under the new law. You may have a derivative of an illegal drug in your blood but may not fall foul of the law.
- Medicinal or prescription drugs can also put you over the limit. However, you may have a medial defence.
- Police laboratories are known for making mistakes. Just because the police tell you you're over the legal limit doesn't mean to say you were. No one method of testing is 100% accurate.
- There is no accepted guidance as to what amount of drug dosage would place you over the limit. Consequently, neither the police, CPS or the courts know what amount of drug needs to be consumed in order to reach the prescribed limit. This can help a defence of post incident consumption (see our case study below).
- A driver who realises they are about to be stopped by the police may ingest the drug after driving in order to avoid being caught in possession of drugs (a separate offence). This may take just a few seconds to consume and, of course, the police have no way of stopping this consumption as they have not yet approached your vehicle. This can lead to a defence of post driving consumption (see our case study below).
- The new law only applies if the prosecution can prove you were the driver of the vehicle. This poses a particular problem for the CPS if the police did not pull you over but only arrived sometime after the vehicle had stopped (because they did not witness you driving).
- The new law only applies if you were driving on a public road or public place. Believe it or not, even a car park belonging to a pub, hotel, supermarket, nursing home, health club, etc, may actually be private land. The police and CPS often make the mistake in thinking that these areas are public because the public have access. This is not necessarily the case.
- As with drink driving cases, the police need to prove their procedure at the police station when obtaining a blood specimen was carried out correctly. If the procedure was not correct, and the required legal warnings not given to you at the right time, the prosecution is likely to fail. The police should have completed various Manual Guidance Drink/Drug Drive booklets whilst with you at the station. These are discussed in more detail below.
- Remember that you cannot be made to provide a blood specimen if you do not want to. You should have been informed of your rights as well as what would happen if you failed to provide a specimen. If the prosecution cannot prove the statutory warning was given to you, the prosecution will fail. Of course, unless you raise this as an issue, and defend your case, you will be convicted.
If you have been charged with drug driving please call us for free initial advice as to your options. If you are awaiting blood results, or have been bailed back to the police station, please call us immediately. Important action can be taken, even at an early stage, to try and avoid a prosecution, conviction and a penalty for drug driving. The earlier we can intervene, the sooner we can make a difference.
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;
Labelling errors, inadequate training, staff fatigue and boredom are also capable of producing a false positive result.
1. Challenging the blood results
The starting point when defending a drug driving blood case is to consider whether the police officer conducted the correct evidential procedure. If he didn’t – the case goes no further.
The most important procedural documents are the MGDDB, MGDDE and MGDDF. These are guides that were first introduced to generalise police procedures and to help prevent officers from obtaining unreliable and unlawful evidential blood & urine samples.
This document outlines the procedure when obtaining an evidential blood or urine sample at the police station, including the important legal requirements that must be given to you. The MGDDB document is outdated and particularly complicated, requiring an officer to consider issues such as consent, sample continuity, reliability and storage (all of which he’s unlikely to have been trained on).
Your evidential sample of blood or urine will be sent to an independent laboratory for analysis. The results returned from the laboratory could form the basis of the prosecution’s case against you. It is therefore crucial that the results are accurate and reliable. The MGDDE document allows an officer to document supplementary information about the drug consumed, the timings of consumption and any symptoms you might be suffering from. A failure by an officer to complete this booklet, or some parts of it, may prevent the lab from carrying out ‘secondary checks’ for reliability purposes.
As a specialist solicitor challenging a drug driving case, I would need to check the technical data-packs and quality assurance certificates provided by the lab.
By law, you must provide your ‘clear and unconditional’ consent to the taking of the blood sample. An officer should not place improper pressure on you to provide a specimen of blood if you do not want to. The option will always be yours.
If you provided a sample of blood, the medical practitioner should fill out a consent form known as an ‘HO/RT/5 Certificate’. This certificate establishes legal consent. What the CPS often fail to realise is that this certificate is ‘time sensitive’ by virtue of Section 16 RTOA 1988. This means that if it is not served on the defence seven days before the trial, it is automatically rendered inadmissible – meaning it can no longer establish consent. Even if the CPS do serve it within the required time-frames, but the defence reject it not less than three days prior to the trial, it is excluded. The CPS are still obliged to prove consent to the criminal standard so the only alternative is to bring the medical practitioner to court to provide live evidence. You can guess how many medical practitioners attend court with three days notice… No practitioner, no case to answer.
Continuity is more important than you think.
In any case involving exhibits or ‘real’ evidence, the continuity chain must be recorded. Lack of continuity can be fatal to a prosecution. This is even more important in cases involving forensic samples, such as blood and urine. This is because of the risk of contamination and the effect of adverse storage conditions. The prosecution will often argue that the existence of a unique barcode on the Streamlined Forensic Report that matches the barcode on the vial is sufficient to establish continuity. This is wrong.
Let’s assume that blood was taken from you by a medical practitioner at a police station. You’re informed by the police that your results will be returned in approximately 6 weeks. If you’re over, you’ll be charged. If you’re under, there will be no further action.
6 weeks later the police inform you that your sample was analysed and tested positive for an illegal drug. You’re going to be charged and bailed to court. Can you trust what the police have told you?
Certain drugs, like THC, cocaine and 6-MAM are very unstable, meaning they can change in concentration depending upon their environment. There are methods, protocols and procedures in place to ensure that your sample is evidentially reliable, yet time after time we find that these protocols are not complied with.
There are many different ways to defend a drug driving allegation. You may have a defence without realising.
The medical defence
This defence applies where:
- A person has taken a drug that is prescribed or supplied for medical or dental purposes
- A person has taken a drug in accordance with any directions given by the person who prescribed it
- 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 from a doctor. It is then for the CPS to prove, beyond doubt, that the defence do not have a legitimate medical reason. This is extremely difficult, particularly where documentary evidence, or expert evidence, is presented by the defence.
An immediate problem for anyone charged with drug driving is the fact that the above limits are largely meaningless (unless you happen to be a chemist, doctor or pharmacologist). If you take any of the above prescription drugs, just how many tablets can you take before being over the limit?
Unlike drink driving offences, it’s difficult – if not impossible – to work out what the new drug driving limits actually mean, making much easier to break the law. Please remember that you can still be found guilty even if you did not intend to be over the limit.
Pleading ‘Not Guilty’ to Drug Driving
Please don’t make the mistake of thinking that a disqualification will be reduced if you plead guilty at the first court hearing.
M.A.J Law are usually able to develop individual defence strategies even before we step into court. We have successfully defended hundreds of drug driving cases since the offence was first introduced, so we know where the police and CPS go wrong. Preparing arguments early will allow us to safeguard your position, spread the risk and maximise the chance of acquittal.
By pleading ‘not guilty’ to drug driving, you force the CPS to prepare its case and hand over the evidence. You may be surprised to find that it doesn't exist. The CPS have great difficulty in preparing cases correctly. They often misunderstand how drug driving cases work in practice, particularly in relation to the scientific evidence against you.
Whatever the situation, if the CPS fail to serve the correct evidence in time, you should not be convicted.
Pleading ‘Guilty’ to Drug Driving
Drug driving carries a mandatory 12 month driving ban. This will not be reduced even if you plead guilty early. You would also receive a criminal record.
It is no secret that the CPS prefer people to plead guilty. By pleading guilty, you are admitting to an offence that you might not have committed. Please remember that the length of a disqualification will not increase even if later found guilty. Every drug driving case that we have ever defended in court has began with a blood result in excess of the prescribed limit.
Even if you are still considering entering a guilty plea, M.A.J. Law can help. By highlighting recent case law, we may be able to convince the court to give you 10 points, rather than a mandatory driving ban. Whatever your decision, we will support you throughout the ordeal.
Any initial advice we give is completely free of charge. You may also want to learn more about special reasons and mitigation, as they could be applicable in your case. Our team of specialist solicitors have the knowledge, experience and expertise to help you build a successful defence, and achieve the best possible result.
The Cost of Drug Driving Solicitors
M.A.J. Law are work on a fixed fee basis. This means that the cost will not increase even if the case becomes more complication than first anticipate, or it takes longer to resolve. We also work in stages, meaning you are only charged for the work needed at that stage of the case. Over the years, our team of specialist solicitors have built long-lasting, honest and trustworthy relationships with our clients. When we win a case, we can apply for 'costs' from Central Funds. This entitles any client to recover some of the legal fees paid to us during the case (subject to assessment).
What to do next
If you’ve been accused of drug driving then your next step is to find the right legal team. Please don't stand in court alone. When choosing a solicitor, there are a number of factors that can define what makes a solicitor ‘right’ for you, these are;
- Court experience. Some solicitors don't actually go to court! We spend much of our time stood next to our clients on the front line.
- A specialist in motoring law. Many firms 'dabble' in motoring offences. We specialise.
- Experience & success in similar cases. Take a look at our Case Studies to read about similar cases.
- Weekend availability.
- Fixed prices, and no initial charge for advice
If the solicitor you’re considering is lacking in any of the above areas, then it could be beneficial to explore other options.
Drug Driving Reviews