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I’ve taken cannabis, how long before I can drive my car again? #AskNeilDavies
In this edition, Neil answers questions from Sarah in London about motor insurance and also looks into the complex issue of driving after taking drugs following new changes to the law thanks to a question from Paul in Liverpool.
Up until recently, the law said that it was only an offence to drive a vehicle after smoking cannabis if your driving was impaired. On 2nd March 2015, the law changed so that it is now an offence not only for you to smoke cannabis and drive whilst impaired, but also whilst the active constituent of cannabis (delta-9-tetrahydrocannibinol) is above the prescribed limit of 2 µg per 1 litre of blood.
Unlike drink driving where the government publishes guidelines as to what amount of alcohol you may consume before driving and remain below the limit, the government has not published any guidance for how much cannabis may be smoked or how long you should leave it before you drive; this makes it very difficult to say how long after smoking a “spliff” or “joint” you will be below the legal limit.
There are a lot of different opinions on how long after smoking cannabis you would be below the limit of 2 µg, with some arguing that you will be below the limit within 2 hours and others suggesting that you will only be safe 24 hours after your last smoke.
In the face of this evidence it is of course a matter for any cannabis user to decide when they believe they may be safe to drive (taking into account the above advice and any impairment), however the only responsible guidance which can be provided is quite simply not to mix drugs and driving and to leave it at least 24 hours before getting behind a wheel.
That’s because for this offence, the minimum period of disqualification is 12 months and there is also the possibility of a sentence of imprisonment of up to 6 months.
With my legal hat on, it must also be said that the possession of cannabis remains illegal (irrespective of the meritorious arguments for legalisation) and that its mere possession risks a cannabis warning, caution, penalty notice or even criminal conviction.
We are all aware that any vehicle on a road must be insured against risks (minimum third party insurance), however people are often surprised to hear that it is also an offence to allow someone to drive your vehicle without insurance. This is known as “causing or permitting” a person to drive without insurance.
People are perhaps more surprised to learn that the punishment for this offence is exactly the same as if you were the person driving the vehicle without insurance – A fine of up to £5,000.00, the endorsement of between 6 and 8 penalty points on your licence and even the possibility of being disqualified from driving.
So the next time a friend asks you to borrow your car, it is best to check that they are insured to drive, otherwise you might both find yourself in trouble!!
Have you got a motoring related question you want to put to Neil?
Simply tweet your question to @CaddickDavies and don’t forget to use the hashtag #AskNeilDavies.
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