YOU can still be over the drug-drive limit long after you think you're clear.

It's a scenario we have been hearing time and time again when covering cases at the Magistrates and Crown Courts; Mr A took cocaine at a party, or Ms B smoked cannabis one night at home.

They were stopped by police days later - often for unrelated things like defective lights - and to their shock, horror and surprise, they were found to be over the limit.

And where does that lead? Being charged with a criminal offence and brought before the court.

If convicted, much like with the alcohol equivalent offence, a drug-driver can expect a mandatory ban of a year.

That goes up to three if you've been convicted of a like offence in the last ten years.

A lot of people depend on their cars to get to work, to take their children to school and to enjoy social activities - but all of that is impacted with a drug-driving offence.

Very often we hear that the ban means the defendant will also lose their job completely and of course, with the court being open, there's the potential for the case to be picked up by the media and reported on for all to read.

In mitigation, it has been put forward many, many times that the defendant took the substance days in advance of the reading, and that they 'thought they would be clear.'

But as we have also heard from Judges and Magistrates in some of these cases, people need to realise that these substances stay in your system much longer than they might think.

Drivers brought before the courts

Nick Colbourne, from Wrexham, served as a Magistrate in Mold and Wrexham Law Courts for 18 years until he stepped down last year.

The former North Wales Police officer and Wrexham county councillor said during his time in the role, he saw and sentenced many defendants for drug driving - and the frequency of those cases increased over the years.

He explained: "My colleagues and I definitely noticed that we were seeing more and more drug-driving cases.

"That was concerning.

"Drugs weren't this prevalent even 25 years ago. It seems everyone does it now.

"But you've really got to think carefully; the only person who knows how much they have consumed is themselves.

"And clearly, it's obvious that the next day isn't sufficient time for it to go.

"It just isn't worth the risk."

Mr Colbourne added that being under the influence of drugs is a serious aggravating factor in instances involving collision, or injury to another - meaning the sentence could potentially be much more onerous.

He said: "We always found it really difficult, dealing with cases of drug-driving as well.

"It was not easy to get your head around what the extent of the driving impairment was."

How the drugs can affect your driving - and how long they're present

Inspector Leigh Evans of the Roads Crime Unit said: “Choosing to drive when impaired by drugs is dangerous and unacceptable. Even a small amount in your system can affect your ability to drive safely.

“The biggest risk you take when driving under the influence of drugs is the risk of causing a collision. It can affect your driving in numerous ways including the ability to judge speed and distance, reaction and coordination skills, drowsiness, blurry or impaired vision, aggression and erratic behaviour to name just a few.

"It can also create a false confidence which can lead to an increase in risk-taking behaviour, which puts your life and the lives of others in danger.

“With drugs such as cannabis you can still be affected the day after smoking it. Regular or heavy cannabis users can be affected for up to a month or perhaps even longer. Taking cocaine makes users feel on top of the world, wide-awake and on top of their game.

"But some users are over-confident and so may take careless risks such as more aggressive manoeuvres at greater speeds. Like drinking and driving, driving when high is illegal and you can still be unfit to drive the day after using cocaine.

What happens if you're caught?

“The penalties for drug driving are the same for drink driving. If convicted you could face a minimum 12-month driving ban, criminal record, a hefty fine or up to six months in prison – or both.

"The consequences of a drug drive conviction are far reaching and can include job loss, increase in car insurance costs, the shame of having a criminal record, loss of independence and trouble of getting into countries such as the USA.

“We are committed to making the roads safer and have a robust strategy around enforcing the ‘Fatal 5’ offences which includes drug driving. Officers are on patrol 24/7 and make no apology for stopping motorists who are driving whilst under the influence of drugs.

"Anyone who is considering driving whilst under the influence should know that we will be out and about waiting for them. We’ll continue to crack down on those who take this unnecessary risk and bring them before the courts.”