Drug Driving: The Facts

Find out why driving under the influence of drugs is dangerous, and if medication can impact your ability to drive.

Why is taking drugs and driving illegal?

Drugs like LSD and magic mushrooms can make you see things that aren't there, which can be dangerous when you are driving. Other drugs can put you, and other people on the road, in serious risk.

Cannabis slows reaction and decision times. It can also distort perception of time and distance, and result in poorer concentration and control of the vehicle.

Cocaine leads to a sense of over-confidence and can lead to riskier, more aggressive driving at greater speeds.

Ecstasy (MDMA) results in distorted vision, altered judgement of risks (for example, not being able to figure out distance from the car in front etc) and an over-confident driving attitude.

When drugs are wearing off users may feel tired, affecting concentration levels.

Can I take medicine and drive?

You do need to be careful with medication - speak to your doctor about whether or not you can drive and take your prescription. Even over the counter medicine such as co-codamol can impact your ability to drive.

Talk to your doctor about whether you should drive if you’ve been prescribed any of the following drugs:

  • amphetamine, eg dexamphetamine or selegiline
  • clonazepam
  • diazepam
  • flunitrazepam
  • lorazepam
  • methadone
  • morphine or opiate and opioid-based drugs, eg codeine, tramadol or fentanyl
  • oxazepam
  • temazepam

How do you get tested for drug driving?

Police Officers can carry out field impairment tests (FITs) at the roadside to help figure out whether the driver is under the influence of drugs. This can involve being asked to walk heel to toe in a straight line, to checking pupils to see if they are dilated. 

The officer then decides the drivers' condition and whether they should be arrested. At the police station they may be tested for drugs. 

The Scottish Government is looking into setting drug driving limits, which would mean you could get tested by the roadside, and if you're found to be over the limit, you will be penalised. 

What if you get caught drug driving?

You'll get:

  • a minimum 12 month driving ban
  • a fine of up to £5,000, up to six months in prison, or both
  • a criminal record
  • Other problems you could face

A conviction for drug driving also means:

  • your car insurance can increase in price
  • you may have trouble travelling to countries like the USA

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