Driver’s drug reading ‘shocker’ while awaiting charge for similar crime

South East Suffolk Magistrates' Court, in Ipswich. Picture: ARCHANT LIBRARY

South East Suffolk Magistrates' Court, in Ipswich. Picture: ARCHANT LIBRARY

A Suffolk woman was caught drug-driving less than a month after being released under investigation for the same offence.

Sarah Ryan was almost 27 times the limit for benzoylecgonine, a cocaine derivative, when she was pulled over and arrested in Newmarket on August 8 last year.

At the time of her arrest, the 47-year-old was under investigation for drug-driving and two counts of possession with intent to supply cocaine and heroin in July.

Ryan, of Mill Lane, Exning, was later charged, and this March received a two-month suspended prison sentence, 12-month driving disqualification and 20 days of drug rehabilitation requirement at Ipswich Crown Court.

Last Tuesday, she was also sentenced for drug-driving while released under investigation at South East Suffolk Magistrates’ Court, in Ipswich.

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She had admitted driving a Red Volkswagen Golf Estate in Bury Road, with 1,345 micrograms of benzoylecgonine per litre of blood, at a hearing on January 29 – the limit being 50mcg.

The court heard there was no evidence of impairment to Ryan’s driving when she committed the offence, but that it was likely she had been pulled over after being recognised as someone under investigation for other drug related matters.

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Declan Gallagher, representing Ryan, said: “On the face of it, the reading is something of a shocker, but I would suggest the levels are completely irrelevant, even when dealing in such spectacular multiples.

“The limits are not set in respect of impairment. Experts are at pains to remind me that benzoylecgonine is evidence of previous consumption and provides no indication of the amount taken.”

Mr Gallagher said the reading corresponded with levels displayed by habitual drug users, like his client at the time, who had now kicked the habit and been clean since October.

Magistrates imposed another 12-month driving ban – to run concurrently with Ryan’s previous disqualification.

She was fined £120 and ordered to pay £40 in prosecution costs and a £30 statutory surcharge towards supporting victims of crime.

“Although there was no impairment to your driving, you were several times over the limit and have been disqualified for a similar offence,” they added.

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