Old laws meant that police had to prove someone’s driving was impaired due to drugs to prosecute them. Recent laws specify rules for 17 different drugs, along the same lines as alcohol, making it an offence to drive after taking them.

The penalties for drug driving if you’re convicted

A minimum 1 year driving ban

An unlimited fine

Up to six months in prison

A criminal record

This will last for 11 years on your licence to show you have been convicted.

Other penalties

The penalty for causing death by dangerous driving under the influence of drugs is a prison sentence of up to 14 years. You are likely to have other issues, such as large increases in car insurance. Some insurance companies will not insure you, your employer will see the conviction of your licence if you drive for work, and you may have trouble travelling to countries such as the USA as they are tight on drug laws.

It is illegal to drive if you are unfit because you are on legal or illegal drugs and if you have certain levels of illegal drugs in your blood. This applies even if it doesn’t effect your driving.

Legal drugs are defined as over-the-counter prescription medicines. Always take your doctor’s advice and are unsure whether you can drive or ride.

Police can do a roadside drug test to screen for cannabis and cocaine. They can also conduct a ‘field impairment assessment’ if they suspect you are on drugs. This involves you taking tests, for example to see if you can walk in a straight line.

You will be arrested if the police suspect you are on drugs. You will need to provide a blood or urine sample at a police station. You will be charged with a crime if the test shows you have taken drugs.

If you are taking any of the following prescription drugs, talk to your doctor to see if you can drive on them:

  • Amphetamine, eg dexamphetamine or selegiline
  • Clonazepam
  • Diazepam
  • Lorazepam
  • Methadone
  • Morphine or opiate and opioid-based drugs, eg codeine, tramadol or fentanyl
  • Oxazepam
  • Temazepam

Drugs come under two categories – illegal and prescription

Illegal drugs include:
  • Benzoylecgonine (cocaine) – 50 micrograms per litre of blood (µg/L)
  • Cocaine – 10µg/L
  • Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (cannabis and cannabinol) – 2µg/L
  • Ketamine – 20µg/L
  • LSD – 1µg/L
  • Methylamphetamine – 10µg/L
  • MDMA (ecstasy) – 10µg/L
  • Heroin and diamorphine – 5µg/L
Prescription drugs include:
  • Clonazepam (used to treat seizures and panic disorder) – 50µg/L
  • Diazepam (anti-anxiety) – 550µg/L
  • Flunitrazepam (Rohypnol – sedative) – 300µg/L
  • Lorazepam (anti-anxiety) – 100µg/L
  • Methadone (heroin substitute) – 500µg/L
  • Morphine (pain relief) – 80µg/L
  • Oxazepam (anti-anxiety) – 300µg/L
  • Temazepam (anti-anxiety and sedative) – 1,000µg/L
  • Amphetamines (eg dexamphetamine used for conditions such as ADHD) – 250µg/L

This is just some of the advice Get Into Driving has to offer