Drugs and Driving

It is illegal to drive if either:

  • You are unfit to do so because you’re on legal or illegal drugs;
  • You have certain levels of illegal drugs in your blood (even if they haven’t affected your driving).

Legal drugs are prescription or over-the-counter medicines. If you are taking them and not sure if you should drive, you should ask a medical professional.
If you are stopped by the police and they suspected you are on drugs then they will ask you to complete a ‘field impairment assessment.’ This is a series of tests such as asking you to walk in a straight line. If they think you’re unfit to drive because of taking drugs, you’ll be arrested and will have to take a blood or urine test at a police station. You could then be prosecuted if the test shows you’ve taken drugs.
Police forces have access to new screening equipment to test suspected drug drivers. Officers can screen drivers for cannabis and cocaine at the roadside. They will be able to test for these and other drugs including ecstasy, LSD, ketamine and heroin at a police station, even if a driver passes the roadside check. New devices that can test for a greater number of drugs at the roadside will be developed in the future.
Prescription medicines
It’s illegal in England and Wales to drive with legal drugs in your blood if it impairs your driving.
It’s an offence to drive if you have over the specified limits of certain drugs in your blood and you haven’t been prescribed them.
Talk to your doctor about whether you should drive if you’ve been prescribed any of the following drugs:

  •  clonazepam
  • diazepam
  • flunitrazepam
  • lorazepam
  • methadone
  • morphine or opiate and opioid-based drugs
  • oxazepam
  • temazepam

You can drive after taking these drugs if you have been prescribed them and followed advice on how to take them by a healthcare professional and they aren’t causing you to be unfit to drive even if you’re above the specified limits
Penalties for drug driving
If you’re convicted of drug driving you will get:

  • a minimum 1 year driving ban
  • a fine of up to £5,000
  • up to 6 months in prison
  • a criminal record

Your driving licence will also show you’ve been convicted for drug driving. This will last for 11 years.
The penalty for causing death by dangerous driving under the influence of drugs is a prison sentence of up to 14 years.
Other problems you could face
A conviction for drug driving also means:

  • Your car insurance costs will increase significantly;
  • If you drive for work, your employer will see your conviction on your licence;
  • You may have trouble travelling to countries like the USA.


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