Drug Driving

It is currently an offence in Scotland to drive a motor vehicle while impaired through drugs or alcohol. The law on this area is soon to be changed to bring Scotland in line with England and the introduction of roadside drug testing kits at police officers’ disposal. This change will make detection of offenders quicker. Whether charged with a drug driving offence under the current law or in the future under the new law, the consequences for you, your family and your professional life can be serious. If charged with an offence it is vital that you seek specialist independent legal advice from reputable road traffic solicitors.

The Current Law

At present it is possible to be charged with driving a motor vehicle while unfit through drink or drugs. To be charged with this offence there needs to be evidence of the driver being impaired. Therefore, detection and charging in relation to drugs normally occurs where someone has caused damage, death, injury or driven erratically and their driving has been found to be impaired by drugs. 


There are a range of penalties at the courts disposal where found guilty of drug driving. The court can impose a 12-month driving ban and a fine of up to £5,000. There is also the option of awarding a custodial sentence of up to 6 months.

The New Law on its Way

Unlike under the current system there will be no need to see evidence of driving while impaired. When stopped by police they can ask you to do a roadside drug test. If this detects that you have over a certain level of the drug in your system, then you will be charged. It does not matter if you caused an accident or were impaired as if you have over a set level in your system and are behind the wheel you will be charged.

Similar to the alcohol roadside tester, drivers subject to a drug test will have to have a mouth swab which alerts the police to the levels of drugs present after 8 minutes. Not all drugs are detected by the roadside kits and where there is suspicion of impairment the driver will be taken to a police station for a blood test to ascertain if there are any present.

Change in Penalties

At present there will be no change in the maximum penalties for the new legislation with penalties remaining the same as under the existing law.


Here at Owen White & Catlin we have many years’ experience of dealing with drug driving charges. Our team provide an empathetic ear and listen to your side of the story to ensure that the best possible defence possible can be presented to the court. If you would like to discuss your case then contact our team today on 020 8890 2836 or fill out our contact page here.


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