Drug driving is the act of driving under the influence of any drug – legal or illegal – that could impair your ability.
New and tougher laws were put in place in England and Wales on 2 March, 2015 to increase the punishment for anyone caught driving under the influence of drugs regardless of whether they’re allowed to have them.
This effectively means that, even if you’ve been prescribed medication by your doctor, you could still be breaking the law if you take them and get behind the wheel of your car.
Not all types of medication will get you in trouble – please consult with your doctor or pharmacist should you need further information.
The main offenders are from the opiate family, so you should be particularly careful if you’ve been prescribed strong painkillers, but even over the counter medications can be a problem. If you’re not sure whether your medication will be a problem, always consult your doctor or your pharmacist.
Which medicinal drugs can be a problem for drivers?
It’s not only painkillers that can impair your ability to drive. Medication for anxiety, depression and sleep disorders can all be problematic – especially if you take more than the prescribed amount.
Here are a few of the legal drugs to watch out for:
- Diazepam (e.g. Valium)
- Flunitrazepam (e.g. Rohypnol)
- Temazepam (e.g. Temazepam Focus)
Unsurprisingly, if you’re found to have taken illegal substances punishments could be even worse, not to mention the fact that you’re more likely to be involved in an accident when driving under the influence of drugs.
The Department for Transport have provided a list of eight drugs most associated with illegal use, with limits set at a level where any claims of accidental exposure can be ruled out.
- benzoylecgonine = 50µg/L
- cocaine = 10µg/L
- delta-9-tetrahydrocannibinol (cannabis) = 2µg/L
- ketamine = 20µg/L
- lysergic acid diethylamide = 1µg/L
- methylamphetamine = 10µg/L
- Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) = 10µg/L
- 6-monoacetylmorphine (heroin) = 5µg/L