Tag Archives: drug driving

The forensic testing scandal – is my conviction safe?

The forensic Testing Scandal – Is My Conviction Safe?

New details have emerged about forensic testing deficiencies at two of the country’s leading laboratories. The police are currently investigating the circumstances.  As a result of this investigation a number of people have been arrested.  People will be asking themselves ‘Is my conviction safe?’

is my conviction safeRandox Testing Services (RTS) and Trimega Laboratories handle samples for some of the most high-profile criminal and family law cases.  As a result the accuracy of the tests are of paramount importance to people facing criminal prosecution for offences ranging from drink driving to murder.

Home Office Minister Nick Hurd told parliament:

‘Most drug tests from RTS between 2013 and 2017 are being treated as potentially unreliable. RTS was mainly commissioned by individual police forces when investigating criminal offences.’

It is believed that the results from as many as 10,000 tests could be under review.

Is Your Conviction Safe?

If a conviction in your case rested wholly or partially on the reliability of forensic tests, it is essential that you seek further legal advice immediately.

While the Crown Prosecution Service will be carrying out a review into criminal cases this will take a considerable period of time.  Some reports are mentioning a three year time frame.  Many will be is my conviction safe?questioning in any event whether the body that brought the prosecution in the first place is ideally placed to make decisions as to the safety or otherwise of a conviction.

Criticisms of the laboratories have previously been raised over the years, but it appears that the police and the prosecution continued to be content with the results produced.

Those who might be affected by an analysis by these laboratories will, therefore, wish to consider whether any further forensic testing ought to take place, and even whether or not there are grounds to appeal. All convictions involving these laboratories will need to be considered on a case by case basis.

Even if your cases did not involve the two laboratories currently under investigation, this scandal throws a spotlight on the hidden world of forensic testing and may call into doubt results from other forensic testing providers.

How we can assist with an unsafe conviction?

Regardless of whether VHS Fletchers handled your case initially our experienced team of criminal defence lawyers has the expertise to ensure the safety of your conviction is beyond question.

If you believe that inaccurate forensic testing may have led you to be wrongfully convicted (and that includes pleading guilty to an offence), please contact your nearest office to speak to one of our expert criminal lawyers.

is my conviction safe
Vhs Fletchers offices across the East Midlands

Alternatively you can use the contact form below to request a call back.  We can help answer your question ‘Is my conviction safe?’


Drug Driving Offences – what you should know

What are the offences?

There are two drug driving offences:

  • Driving whilst unfit through drugs
  • Driving whilst over the limit for certain drugs

What is driving whilst unfit through drugs?

To be guilty of driving whilst unfit, the prosecution must prove:

  • You were driving (or attempting to drive or in charge of) a vehicle on a road or public place; and
  • You were unfit to drive; and
  • This was due to any drug (medication or illegal)

What is driving over the drug limit?

Since 2015, it has been an offence to drive (or attempt to drive or be in charge of a vehicle) on a road or public place with certain drugs in your blood above fixed limits. Limits have been set for 17 drugs, covering legal and illegal drugs.

Illegal drugs and the drug driving limit

The limits for illegal drugs are set very low, so that even trace amounts can lead to a prosecution. The limits do not provide any indication that the driver’s behaviour or ability to drive are affected by the drug. As these drugs are illegal, effectively a zero tolerance approach has been adopted.

drug driving offences illegal drugs
Drug driving offences – illegal drugs

Legal drugs and the drug driving limit

These are prescription or over-the-counter medications. Limits are set at levels where there is an increased risk of road traffic collision and are higher than would be expected in someone who has taken a normal dose as medicine.

drug driving offences legal drugs
Drug driving offences – legal drugs


What about prescription drugs?

drug driving offences prescription medicineThe limits set for legal, medication drugs are lower than would be expected in someone taking a normal dosage of the drug.

For example, people taking Lorazepam as a prescribed medicine would normally have a blood concentration of 10-20 µg per litre of blood. The legal limit is set at 100 µg/L.

Even if your blood sample is over the limit for a drug, providing you are not impaired by it, there is a defence if the drug has been taken for medical purposes. This applies if:

• the drug has been prescribed or supplied for medical purposes; and
• it was taken in accordance with the instructions given; and
• the driver was lawfully in possession of it.

The defence cannot be used where the driver did not follow the instructions about the amount of time that should elapse between taking the drug and driving.

What are the penalties for drug driving offences?

If convicted of a drug driving offence, the court must impose a disqualification from driving for at least 12 months. This can only be reduced or avoided if the court finds that there are “Special Reasons” relating to the offence. The court cannot impose a ban for less than 12 months based on the hardship that would be suffered as a result of it. In addition, the court can impose the following:

• Prison for up to 6 months
• Suspended Prison Sentence
• Community Order
• Unlimited fine

What should I do if I am accused of drug driving?

drug driving offences legal advice
Nottingham road traffic law solicitor Graham Heathcote

These are technical offences and involve complicated procedures for the police to follow. Very often, there are mistakes made which mean there is a lack of evidence. Defence experts may be able to challenge the prosecution evidence.

If you would like advice about a drug driving allegation, contact one of the solicitors at your local office or Nottingham road traffic solicitor Graham Heathcote on 0115 9599550 or use the form below.


Drug Driving Acquittal in Mansfield

Mansfield Crime Solicitor Tim Haines complied with court directions  in a ‘drug driving’ case which meant that the Crown were forced to drop a case on the day of trial.

Drug Driving

mansfield criminal solicitor drug driving acquittal
Mansfield Magistrates’ Court

His client was charged with ‘drug driving’. The prosecution case was that he had been driving with nearly eight times the legal level of the drug amphetamine in his system. The Defendant disputed this evidence.  He was not helped in this because he had managed to misplace his blood sample provided by the police to allow his own expert analysis.

The obligation is on a client and his legal representative to complete a pre-trial review form each and every time a case is adjourned to trial in the Magistrates’ Court.  In this case, Tim completed the form in great detail.  I was made abundantly clear that the expert evidence relied upon by the prosecution could not be agreed as the findings were disputed.

Expert’s Findings Challenged

Perhaps more importantly, because the findings were challenged, the client directly challenged the prosecution to prove that the sample analysed was the correct one.  The Crown was told that it would have to prove each evidential link between the sample being taken and analysed.

Despite this early identification of the relevant issues the prosecution failed to obtain and serve this evidence.  As a result, on the day of the trial Tim made representations to the Magistrates that the prosecution case was fundamentally flawed.  The Crown could not prove to the Court that the sample analysed by its expert was that taken from the Defendant after arrest.

Not an ‘ambush’ defence

An attempt was made by the prosecution to suggest that it had been ‘ambushed’.  It was argued that the issue as to lack of continuity had not been raised by Tim sufficiently mansfield crime solicitor drug driving acquittalin advance of the trial. This contention could easily be refuted by reference to the case management form completed some 6 months earlier.  This made it clear what the evidential issues were.

The Magistrates understandably refused the Crown application to adjourn the case to a fresh trial date.   They were able to point out that the completed pre-trial form was fully and accurately completed.  As a result the Crown had had 6 months to respond to the evidential challenge raised by the Defence. The Crown were left with no option but to offer no evidence against the Tim’s client and the charge was dismissed.

Tim’s client left court without conviction and what would have been a mandatory driving disqualification of at least 12 months.  He was able to keep his employment, which would have been jeopardised if not lost altogether if he had been disqualified from driving.

Contact Tim Haines

Road traffic cases may seem straightforward but can be complex.  If you wish to speak to Tim about a police investigation or court case  for drug driving or any other matter please telephone him on 01623 675816 or email him here.