DOPE ON A ROPE
Drugs and motorcycles don’t mix. Here’s why…
QEight years ago I was done for drink driving. It was a wakeup call for me, as I realised that I had fallen into being an alcoholic, and I am now a recovering alcoholic. I have been abstinent of alcohol for six and a half years, I have really turned my life around, and I am in full time work. I was pulled by the police a few months ago for having an illegally small number plate and the police officer told me that he suspected that I was intoxicated through drink or drugs, and he then proceeded to give me a mouth swab by the side of the road.
I had smoked a spliff the night before as I do most nights, but it was a weak spliff and I was not really that bothered. The police officer put the swab into some sort of testing solution, and he then told me that I was nicked for driving while having taken cannabis. I lost it with the copper, and I probably did not react very well. The police officer told me that he was going to have to take me to the police station for a blood test. I had a load of sarcasm off the police about needing a bicycle when the blood tests came through. I told the police officer that I would hold the police force liable if my motorcycle was stolen. He told me it was no problem, they would get a recovery vehicle in, and I have now been presented with a bill for £150 for the recovery vehicle.
Apparently, though, that is the least of my problems. I was done a little less than three years prior to the police officer arresting me for cannabis for 127mph in a 70 and I received a 56 day ban for that. I have had my first appearance at the magistrates’ court, my licence was instantly revoked, and the magistrate’s lackey, sat in the front of the court told me that I would be facing a minimum three year ban. Surely this cannot be right.
AThe magistrates are not trying to scare you. You are facing a minimum three year ban. You have been particularly unlucky or irresponsibility has caught up with you, depending on your perspective. You have been hit by a triple whammy. The cannabis in your bloodstream would be a one year mandatory ban. Your blood results show you had a reading which proves intoxication albeit not by a massive margin. Because there were no particular aggravating factors – for example you had not been involved in a crash, nor were you carrying a passenger, you fall at the bottom end of the sentencing. Had you been involved in a collision, for example, you would probably be facing a ban of around two years. The drink driving is a relevant offence. It was an offence of driving while intoxicated by alcohol. You were now riding while intoxicated with cannabis. The speeding, very unluckily for you, falls within the three year band that the magistrates are obliged to take into account.
Because you were banned for a period of 56 days or greater, within three years of the offence of driving with cannabis, this is the third factor the magistrates have to take into account. The magistrates have no choice other than to ban you for three years. You have come up with what might well be regarded as special circumstances, for example in speeding. The fact that you will be losing your job is something which does not really carry any weight, because it is supposed to be a punishment.
I amnot trying to be unsympathetic here. If you had been done for speeding and the loss of your licence would have impacted on, for example the support that you can give your children and the contact that you can have with your children this is factor the magistrates might well have taken into account for other offenses, but driving or riding with intoxicants is something where the magistrates have no discretion. The fact that you have “turned your life around” does not really bear close scrutiny. You stopped drinking alcohol, and turned around your problemwith alcoholism. I commend you for that. However you have replaced one intoxicant with another, and the fact that you might well think that cannabis is less harmful to you then alcohol, and it probably is, does not really get around the fact that you were driving while, according to the law, you were stoned.
You have not lived an entirely blameless life since you gave up alcohol, not least because you were riding at 127mph in a 70mph zone, which is not going to get much of a shock horror reaction from me, but so far as the magistrates are concerned you have been in front of them fairly regularly for the last eight years all for some quite serious motoring offences.
The magistrates’ “lackey” – the legally qualified clerk – has got it right. The police are not being sarcastic, you are going to be banned for at least three years, and, regrettably, if your life collapses around you as a result of you riding a motorcycle while having smoked cannabis that I am afraid is a direct consequence of your actions. Your situation is bad but so far as the magistrates are concerned you have been the author of your own misfortune so raging against the law is not the best plan.