Driving under the influence of drugs

Driving whilst under the influence of drugs or alcohol is illegal. Here's what you can expect if you drive whilst affected by drugs.


By Marmalade Author

Updated on Aug 4th, 2022

Driving whilst under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a serious offence and can result in catastrophic consequences. It is illegal to drive if you are unfit to do so because of legal or illegal drugs. This means even if you're taking prescription drugs - if they affect your driving, you shouldn't be behind the wheel.

It is also illegal if you have certain levels of illegal drugs in your blood, even if it hasn't affected your driving!

What is the punishment for being caught driving under the influence?

B&W Police car

In most cases, the penalties for getting caught in the UK usually result in a 12-month ban, a £5,000 fine and up to 12 months imprisonment, depending on the severity of the offence. These consequences can be even more severe if you cause damage to property or refuse to provide a blood, urine or breath sample to the police when they suspect you of being over the limit.

Things can be seriously worse if someone is injured or killed by a driver under the influence. They could be sentenced up to 14 years in prison for causing death by careless driving whilst under the influence of drink or drugs. It's just not worth taking the risk!

Driving whilst impaired on drugs

Smoking Drugs

In March 2015, the government introduced roadside testing known as 'the drugalyser' in England and Wales for people suspected of driving whilst impaired on drugs. This doesn't just mean illegal substances such as cannabis, cocaine, ketamine, LSD or ecstasy but certain prescription drugs can also run a high risk of leaving the individual in an unfit state to drive. Some of these prescribed narcotics include:-

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

If you have legitimately been prescribed drugs from your doctor, make sure you only take the dosage they have recommended. It may also be worth obtaining a doctor's note confirming you are allowed to be taking these medicines in case the Police pull you over.

Driving whilst intoxicated on drugs can come with some unpleasant side effects. Not only are your reaction times slower, it also affects your concentration, coordination, can cause dizziness, fatigue, hallucinations, and in some cases unpredictable and aggressive behaviour. None of which is a nice state for the driver to be in, let alone for anyone travelling with them, and puts their own life, and the lives of others, on the line.

What are the consequences of driving under the influence of drugs?

B&W Prison

The consequences are the same as drink driving as they are categorised under the same offence. If your main occupation is a driver, you can pretty much kiss goodbye to that job or any chance of getting into a similar line of work for quite a number of years. You may also struggle with travelling abroad to countries like the USA and other parts of the world.

In official UK government statistics, it is estimated that there were 31 recorded road deaths and 181 serious casualties as a result of impaired driving by illegal and medical drugs in 2013 alone. However, this figure is likely to be much higher and closer to 200 deaths that year from exactly the same issue. This issue needs to be taken very seriously by anyone wishing to keep their license, record and conscience free from the devastating outcomes that it can cause.

There is no excuse for driving under the influence, whether that is drink or drugs. You need to put yours and everyone else safety first - so don't get behind the wheel if you know you shouldn't!

Check out our article on 'driving under the influence of Alcohol'

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