South Shields motorist caught 20 times over drug-drive limit is spared jail

Groombridge was 20 times over the drug-drive limit.
Groombridge was 20 times over the drug-drive limit.

A reckless driver who was twice caught behind the wheel while high on a cocktail of drugs has been spared jail.

Joe Groombridge had nearly 20 times the limit for a form of cocaine in his bloodstream - and was above the limit for cannabis, ecstasy and a second sample of cocaine - when he was first pulled over by police.

Chief Inspector John Heckels.

Chief Inspector John Heckels.

The 23-year-old was arrested and charged under new drug-drive laws brought into force last year.

But he landed himself in trouble just weeks later - after being caught driving while nearly two times the limit for cannabis on the same day he had been in the dock on another drugs charge.

Groombridge, of South Dene, South Shields, admitted four counts of driving a motor vehicle with a proportion of a controlled drug above the specified limit from the first incident on January 30 and pleaded guilty to a fifth drug-drive charge from February 16.

Glenda Beck, prosecuting, said: “On January 30 at 3.45pm, the defendant was driving along Sunderland Road when his vehicle was seen swaying in the road by police.

Drug driving is as serious an issue as drink driving and we will look to identify and take action against anyone who thinks it is acceptable.

Inspector John Heckells

“He was spoken to by officers who suspected he was under the influence of drugs.

“ He was given a road side drugs test which he failed.

“He was stopped on February 16 at 9.55pm in South Dene, South Shields.

“He had been in court for possession of drugs earlier that day and has gone out driving with drugs in his system.” Christopher Brown, defending, told care had to be taken over sentencing in connection with new drug-driving laws.

He said: “We are in new territory with these laws. He is 20 times over the limit for one of the drugs.

“If he was 20 times over the drink-drive limit he would be dead, so we have to be careful about making a comparison.”

Groombridge was given a 12-week jail term - suspended for a year - was banned from driving for 30 months and must pay £85 costs and a £80 victim surcharge.

Northumbria Police’s Motor Patrols Chief Inspector John Heckels highlighted the issue. He said: “Drug driving is as serious an issue as drink driving and we will look to identify and take action against anyone who thinks it is acceptable.

“The new legislation has helped us crackdown on drug drivers by significantly lowering the acceptable limits of certain drugs in the blood stream and set a legal limit for officers to test people against.”