DOPE ON A ROPE

Drugs and mo­tor­cy­cles don’t mix. Here’s why…

Fast Bikes - - LEGAL -

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.

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