Prescription drugs and driving – the law

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Last year, new legislation on drug driving came into effect, with legal limits on a number of prescription drugs being introduced.

Prescription drugs and driving law

Whilst obvious illegal drugs such as cannabis and heroin have always been on the list of banned substances, the Government has released a new list, which includes prescription drugs that could potentially result in a drug-driving charge.

Many prescription drugs can cause drowsiness or slow reaction times, hence their inclusion. It is now an offence to be over the prescribed limit for any of these, regardless of evidence of impaired driving.

If convicted of driving whilst over the legal limit, penalties can include a minimum 12 month driving ban, up to six months in prison, unlimited fines, an eleven year license endorsement and a criminal record.

Below is a list of prescription drugs the Government has included:

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

Government guidance states:

It’s illegal to drive if either:

  • you’re 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)

However, you can drive after taking these drugs if:

  • you’ve been prescribed them and followed advice on how to take them by a healthcare professional
  • they aren’t causing you to be unfit to drive even if you’re above the specified limits

If you are prescribed any of the above, please do check with your doctor regarding how they could affect your ability to drive.