In charge while unfit through (prescription) drugs

Convicted Driver Insurance


My brother in law was charged with being 'in charge of a vehicle while unfit through drugs.'

He is a troubled, vulnerable and damaged soul, who was regularly in trouble with the Police as a youngster (usually for being drunk and disorderly). Apart from an SP30, however, he has stayed out of trouble for at least the past ten years.

He exists on benefits and so cannot afford legal representation.

Feeling very poorly, (he was suffering kidney failure), he stopped at Heston services in January, where he became overwhelmed by his life, and attempted to end it by drinking brake fluid.

Rapidly feeling much worse, he got out of his car, leaving the handbrake off. It rolled into another parked car. No damage was caused.

He asked the other driver to call an ambulance. This surely demonstrates that he had no intention of driving his car again, and that he just wanted to be taken to hospital. Isn't this a statutory defence to the charge of being 'in charge'?

The other driver (quite understandably) called the police, who arrived, arrested him on suspicion of drink driving and took him to hospital.

Subsequent urine tests indicated the presence of prescription sleeping and anti-depression drugs (but obviously not at any particular concentration). These included Zopiclone, Oxazepam and Temazepam. He takes low doses of Zopiclone and Diazepam which are prescribed by his GP. He does not take Oxazepam and Temazepam, but since these are Benzodiazepines like Diazepam, I suspect they were mistaken for the latter, which he had taken (at his low prescribed dose) that morning.

The A&E doctor refused permission for a blood test, as my Brother in Law was felt to be too ill. (He subsequently remained in hospital for several days having dialysis).

No illegal drugs or alcohol were detected because he hadn't taken any. He and I believe that any 'unfitness' was due to kidney failure, his mental state, and the ingestion of brake fluid.

He was summoned to appear before Uxbridge magistrates on Wednesday just gone, where the Duty solicitor challenged the prosecutors' case, 'winning' a two-week adjournment.

He can barely afford the public transport fares from Gloucester to Uxbridge, nor a hotel room to ensure that he is on time for the hearings.

The Duty solicitor advised him that he needs a lawyer. He can't afford one. Citizen's Advice have advised him that he can't get legal aid.


Thanks for the prompt reply, Martin.

That seems like rather bad news, as he really can't afford to hire a lawyer, and the case seems to be rather complex.

Should we hope, perhaps, that the charge might be dropped?


Do you think he has any chance of beating this 'rap', Martin?

Would you have any advice as to what he should say, and what he should concentrate on?


The CPS have (according to the Contactcrime call centre) uploaded a DISC notice announcing their intention not to proceed, under Section 23, subsection 3, of the Prosecution of Offenders Act, 1985.

This was uploaded two days after the first hearing, on 12 August.

The Court have not yet cancelled the planned hearing next Wednesday.
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