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Drug driving in Scotland is on the rise, and could soon overtake drink driving cases, but what happens if you're accused of drug driving? How does it compare to a charge of drink driving?

If you have been charged with drug driving, you must seek legal advice from an experienced solicitor right away. Since 21 October 2019, Police Scotland have had increased powers concerning drug driving resulting in an increase in cases. Under the new laws, police can carry out a roadside mouth swab test where they suspect a person may be driving under the influence of drugs. Even if you pass the roadside test, police still have the power to arrest you where they believe your driving is impaired.

In this article, we look at what will happen after you have been arrested and charged with drug driving. For advice specific to your situation, contact our team now on 0131 341 1827 or complete our online enquiry form and we will get back to you right away.

What happens after I have been charged with a drug driving offence?

If you fail the roadside test, or where police have reason to believe your driving is impaired because you are under the influence of drugs, you will be arrested and taken to the police station. The mouth swab roadside test cannot detect the presence of all drugs, and so further tests will be carried out at the police station.

At the police station

When you are at the police station, a blood sample will be taken to test for the presence of drugs. If the test shows that you are under the influence of drugs, you may be charged with an offence. Some drugs are subject to certain limits, like in cases of drink driving. However, with others, police take a ''zero tolerance'' approach. A near-zero limit is in place for drugs including; cocaine, cannabis, ketamine, LSD, meth, ecstasy and heroin.

There is no need to prove that your driving was impaired when it can be proven that you were driving under the influence of certain drugs.

If you are charged with drug driving

If you are charged with a drug driving offence, you will then be processed at the police station. Your photograph, fingerprints and DNA will be taken. Typically, you will spend some time in a cell.

Bail undertaking

After you have been processed, you will then be released from custody following what is known as the bail undertaking procedure. The bail undertaking procedure allows you to be released on bail, with an undertaking to attend court on a certain date in the future. Your court date will normally be set within a few weeks of the date you were arrested.

If you fail to attend court on the date specified in your bail undertaking, you will face an additional charge of failing to attend court on the agreed date.

Previous convictions

For those with previous convictions, you may not be released on a bail undertaking. Instead, you may be kept in custody until you can appear in court on the next lawful day.

Your rights to a solicitor if you are arrested

If you are arrested for drug driving, you have the right to speak to a solicitor. They can advise you on the road traffic procedures in the police station. This is very important as failure to comply with procedures without a reasonable excuse can itself constitute a separate offence

Remember, if you have been arrested you can call our road traffic defence solicitors on 0131 341 1827.

Is it legal for me to drive between being released from the police station and my court date?

Yes. You are legally still permitted to drive after you have been charged with a drug offence, but prior to conviction. There is a presumption of innocence, and until you have attended court and been convicted of a drug-driving offence, it is presumed that you are innocent. However, the police may attach special conditions to your bail undertaking that prevent you from driving.

Penalties for drug driving

You will attend court on the agreed date, and if you are convicted of a drug-driving offence, the penalties can be severe - even for first-time offenders. The court may impose:

  • A minimum 12-month driving ban
  • 3-11 penalty points on your driving licence
  • Up to 6 months in prison
  • An unlimited fine

If you are convicted of with death by careless driving whilst under the influence of drugs, you could face up to 14 years in prison, with a minimum driving ban of two years.

Contact our Drug Driving Defence Solicitors now

Our solicitors aim to provide clients with the best possible legal advice and representation for them on all types of drug driving defence and road traffic law matters. Please contact us today on 0131 341 1827 to speak to one of our solicitors.

Thorley Stephenson SSC's offices are located close to Edinburgh Sheriff Court and The Court of Session and are easily accessible for all forms of transport.

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