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JUN
13

72% of Drivers Admit to Multi-Tasking Behind the Wheel

There has been some interesting research by Gocompare.com, the comparison site, released in June 2013, and by Santander earlier this year (April 2013), focusing upon driver behaviour and distractions.

The research by Gocompare.com concludes the following:

  • 69% of drivers eat whilst driving
  • 34% of drivers smoke whilst driving
  • 31% of drivers speak and hold a mobile phone whilst driving
  • 30% of drivers read or text a message whilst driving
  • 23% of drivers use a smartphone while driving

Drivers in the age group 25 to 34 are most likely to be distracted while driving; 48% of this age group had either read or sent a text and 22% had either written or checked email when driving.

Santander’s research concluded that 25% of drivers sent a text or fiddled with the car stereo while driving, behaviour which accounted for near misses for 25% female drivers and 33%+ of male drivers.

Additionally, 11% of men and 15% of women admitted to crashing a vehicle because of a distraction. This means that large sections of the driving population are at risk of causing injury to themselves and others, and are at an even greater risk of facing criminal prosecution for careless or dangerous driving, or death by careless or dangerous driving.

The penalties can range from points on your licence and substantial fines to disqualification from driving and even imprisonment.

Next month police will be able to impose ‘on the spot fines’ for lesser offences of careless driving.

If you are facing such an allegation, whether by charge or summons, or need to save your licence, you will need top motoring lawyers to help you through the whole process.

Leading traffic offence lawyers such as us provide a first class, effective, supportive service for reasonable fees. We have an excellent record when defending driving offences over the last thirty years.

Contact Jeffrey Lewis or complete our online enquiry form.

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MAR
28

New drug driving offence

A new offence of driving or being in charge of a motor vehicle with a concentration of a specified controlled drug in the body above a prescribed limit is being introduced in the Crime and Courts Bill, currently making its way through Parliament.

Drug driving is a growing problem in the UK and, according to Transport Minister Stephen Hammond, is a factor in an estimated 200 road fatalities each year.

The Government commissioned a review of the law relating to drink and drug driving back in 2010 and has been working to tighten the rules since then. The focus of this latest change is on the fact that the existing law seems to be of limited effect in tackling drug driving.

Issues with the current law

At the moment drug driving is dealt with under Section 4 of the Road Traffic Act 1988, which makes it an offence to drive while unfit to do so through drink or drugs.

In practice, however, few prosecutions are actually brought and of those which are initiated, many are eventually thrown out or withdrawn.

This is because of the technical difficulty of securing a conviction for driving while unfit through drugs: to succeed, the prosecution needs to prove that the defendant was driving or in charge of the vehicle; that he was so impaired that he was unfit to drive; and that the impairment affecting him was caused by drugs.

New offence

The Government has therefore decided to introduce a new strict liability offence of driving with a controlled drug in the body – removing the need to prove impairment. This will mirror the position with drink driving, and will run alongside the existing Section 4 offence.

New defence

However, as Stephen Hammond said in a recent statement:

"We must ensure that the new offence would not unduly penalise drivers who have taken properly prescribed or supplied drugs in line with medical advice."

The Crime and Courts Bill therefore gives a defence to people who have driven after taking a controlled drug that has been prescribed or supplied "for medical or dental purposes." To succeed in the defence, that person must have followed the directions given for the use of the drug in question.

It's also worth noting that this defence will not apply to the "old' offence of driving while unfit to do so under Section 4 of the Road Traffic Act 1988. This will still be available to prosecutors.

What is a controlled drug?

The Crime and Courts Bill does not list which drugs will be regarded as controlled drugs, nor the limit of concentration at which they will bring the offence into play. These details are going to be dealt with in separate regulations, currently being developed by the relevant government ministers in England, Wales and Scotland.

However, technical advice on the identity of the specified controlled substances, and the maximum permitted levels of each, is already available. This comes in the form of a report from a specialist panel, published earlier this month.

According to Stephen Hammond, the Government hopes to consult on the draft regulations later in the year.

Contact us for legal advice

For specialist legal advice on any of these issues relating to driving under the influence of drugs or other motoring law issues, contact Lewis Nedas on 02073872032 or complete our online enquiry form here.

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