M and M’s, Doves, dolphins, Sweeties, Brownies; just some of the street names for this class “A” controlled drug. It is vitally important to be aware of the nature of this drug, if a defendant is going to fight a drug driving charge (where the prosecution allege that Ecstasy is the drug involved); or where a suspect/defendant is going to force the prosecution to prove its case!
Remember this, a defendant does not have to prove a thing: the prosecution brings the case and they must prove each and every element of it, including the nature of the drug involved. That is where the difficulties can begin for them. If drug driving lawyer knows what he or she is about, then his or her client has a fighting chance of being
found “not guilty” as charged! Providing, that is, the core principles mentioned above are borne in mind.
Ecstasy is a truly synthetic drug (largely derived from amphetamine), and is normally sold in this country in the form of a pill or capsule. It can be found in a number of different forms:
(i) Pills or capsules, which often have logos or designs of one sort or another, and which are simply swallowed ;(ii) Ecstasy powder, which may be the result of the crushing of a pill or pills or simply sold in powder form (this may be snorted or wrapped into, say, a cigarette paper and swallowed);
(iii) Ecstasy crystals, which are occasionally sold seen on the streets.
The effects of the drug vary depending upon the individual, but it is a stimulant which will normally have a euphoric effect upon the user (hence the name!). It also may have an hallucinogenic effect. Taken orally, in a comparatively small dose, it will begin to have an effect within 20 to 60 minutes. The effect may be delayed if taken on a full stomach. Leaving aside the dangers to an individual involved in taking any substance, the contents of which are unknown, this drug can also lead to dehydration and becoming overheated: hence the tragic deaths of some young people at late night clubs, etc., In short this drug is given a class “A” classification because it is lethality. The drug is not quickly eliminated from the body, and it takes about 36 hours for a person to be completely clear. This, of course, can have major repercussions if an individual chooses to drive.
The level at which a person will be prosecuted for drug-driving, with Ecstasy in their system, is comparatively low. For Ecstasy it is 10 micrograms per one litre of blood (a limit lower than was recommended by Government experts). It must be remembered that one microgram is 0.000001 of a gram: 10 micrograms is really that small!
This low prosecution level for the drug, is particularly so when it is remembered that a suspect driver could be over the drug driving limit for Ecstasy without necessarily being unfit to drive: the concepts are different, though, as a matter of common-sense, there will often be overlap.
For all practical purposes, therefore, there is a “zero-tolerance” for the driving of any vehicle, on a public road or public place whilst a
driver has this drug, in his or her system. The effects of this “zero- tolerance” approach are no better demonstrated than in the mere fact of the new drug-driving legislation, created by Parliament in 2013 (The Crime and Courts Act) and brought into force in 2015; having been grafted on to the old Road Traffic Act 1988, as an amendment by the government (the new section 5A).
When the police take a blood sample from a suspect at the police station, then the alleged level of the drug in the blood will be measured (perhaps weeks later), by a forensic scientist or, in all likelihood, by junior members of his or her staff. Therefore, the methodology and purity of the techniques they employ and the skills and experience of these sometimes junior and lower level staff, are all important factors when it comes to producing something which resembles an accurate measurement, of Ecstasy in a blood sample. Challenging such techniques and forcing the prosecution to prove, as they must, that the testing procedure was sound, is one of the crucial methods of fighting such allegations in court.
It is important to bear in mind that, unlike breath specimens, provided at a police station, in a drink driving prosecution (where the results are obtained almost immediately), measuring the level of Ecstasy in the bloodstream is not an exact science [see video “Drug Driving”]; and takes much time and scientific effort to achieve. There will be no immediate result, following the taking of a blood sample; and a suspect may have to wait months for the result. This is because various tests and procedures have to be carried out on the blood sample and the various private laboratories involved are presently under enormous pressure of work: this, of course, can work to a suspects advantage. Moreover, personal factors, the type and purity of the Ecstasy will all have an effect upon the levels, detected by the laboratory analysis of a suspects blood. These factors include:
PERSONAL FACTORS –
1. Age, weight and height of the suspect;
2. Metabolic rate and whether or not the person has consumed the drug on a full stomach and
3. Whether or not alcohol or other drugs have been used in combination with Ecstasy;
FACTORS RELEVANT TO THE ECSTASY –
1. The nature of the ecstasy, its strength and purity;
2. The period of time over which it has been consumed and the doses consumed &
3. The manner in which it was consumed (snorted or swallowed).
NOW WATCH THE VIDEO FOR CRUCIAL INFORMATION:
CHOOSING A LAWYER – CRUCIAL INFORMATION:
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO NOW?
If you have been charged with the new section 5A offence or are waiting for the police to notify you of the results of their analysis of your blood; or been charged with the old section 4 offence of driving whilst unfit, then you need to know URGENTLY what can be done to fight the case.
It is obvious that you need to call a lawyer quickly.
If that lawyer offers the following, you may think it wise to make that call:
1. Initial ‘phone advice given free of charge;
2. Available to speak to clients 7 days a week, 365 days a year between 8.00 AM and 8.00 PM;
3. Specialist drug and drink driving advocate, who has practiced for 36 years in both the Magistrates and Crown Court, having also represented clients in both the High Court and Court of Appeal;
4. Who will have complete sole control of your case and who will be the one taking your call, at 11.00 on a Sunday morning, if you choose to ‘phone. In other words a lawyer available at your convenience, not the other way around &
5. A list of references from satisfied clients and access to expert witnesses, at the “cutting-edge” of their respective professions.