Driving under the influence of drugs is taken very seriously by the law and tough new rules were enforced in 2015 to punish those who get behind the wheel with illegal or certain legal drugs in their system.
In England and Wales, it’s illegal to drive if you’ve taken illicit medication, even if it hasn’t affected your driving ability. It’s also against the law to drive if you’ve taken certain legal drugs that are impairing your ability to drive. If you haven’t been prescribed certain drugs and have over the specified limits of them in your body, this is also a criminal offence.
Legal drugs are classed as medicines that may have been prescribed by your doctor or bought over-the-counter.
Legal drugs to be aware of when driving
There are certain legal drugs that can affect your ability to drive – they might make you feel drowsy, lightheaded or unable to focus or concentrate. These include amphetamine, clonazepam, diazepam, flunitrazepam, lorazepam, methadone, morphine or opiate-based drugs such as codeine, tramadol or fentanyl, oxazepam or temazepam.
If you’ve been prescribed any of these drugs, speak to your doctor or pharmacist about how to take them safely, particularly with regards to driving.
These prescribed medicines are permissible to take when driving, provided you’ve followed the appropriate healthcare advice and they’re not affecting your ability to drive. If you haven’t been prescribed these medicines and they’re found at a certain level in your bloodstream when driving, you could be arrested.
Consequences of driving whilst taking drugs
If police suspect you could be under the influence of drugs when you are behind the wheel, you may be stopped and forced to take a field impairment assessment. This involves a number of tests, including checking to see if you can walk in a straight line, as well as roadside screening for drugs.
If you’re deemed unfit to drive due to drugs, you’ll be arrested and taken to a police station, where you’ll then take a blood or urine test.
The penalties for a drug-driving conviction include at least a year’s driving ban, an unlimited fine and a criminal record. You could face up to six months in prison and if you cause death by dangerous driving with drugs in your system, a custodial sentence could stretch to 14 years.
Your driving licence will also show that you’ve been convicted for drug driving for up to 11 years. Convicted drivers will also find their car insurance costs soar through the roof.
Since tougher laws regarding drug driving were introduced in March 2015, to include roadside drug screening and new driving limits imposed for prescription and illegal drug use, the number of arrests made has increased by 140%.
If you do a lot of driving, it makes sense to check the effects of any medication you are taking before you set off, particularly if driving is part of your job. For those businesses seeking fleet management and vehicle leasing solutions for their staff, get in touch with the experts at ALD Automotive.