While most of us accept that drinking and driving is unacceptable and the consequences can be fatal, many of us do not fully understand the issue of drugs and driving.
Recent research has disclosed the presence of drugs in one form or another in a significant number of drivers who have died in crashes. It must be noted though that not all the drugs detected will have impaired the drivers or have contributed to the crash.
Many people are not aware that many prescription or over the counter medicines can have a marked effect on driving ability. The list below shows some more common examples but the best advice is to always ask your doctor or pharmacist if the medicine will affect your ability to drive and always read the information sheets that come with the medicine.
The following types of drugs can cause drowsiness and impair your ability to drive:
- Some antidepressants.
- Stronger painkillers e.g. those containing codeine or dihydrocodeine.
- Powerful tranquillisers – used for the treatment of some mental disorders. Some drugs used to treat epilepsy e.g. phenobarbitone and phenytoin.
- Benzodiazepine tranquillisers e.g. tamazepam or diazepam – commonly prescribed for anxiety or insomnia.
- Some antihistamines – used in hayfever medicines.
Also: Insulin and oral anti-diabetic drugs. Low blood sugar can contribute to confusion and impairment of driving ability. Some eye drops can cause short-term blurring of vision.
Ask your doctor or pharmacist for advice Read the labels Don’t drink while taking drugs Always report side effects to your doctor If in doubt don’t drive.
A change in the law allows police to test for both prescription and illegal drugs. New technology allows for even trace amounts to be detected, so before you get in the car, make sure you know what is in your system.
Consider the potential outcomes of driving under the influence of cocaine, cannabis, ketamine, LSD, methylamphetamine, MDMA, heroin.
If you are prescribed any of the following, please ask your health professional for advice: amphetamine, clonazepam, diazepam, flunitrazepam, lorazepam, methadone, morphine, oxazepam, temazepam.
If you are caught, the penalties can be severe, including a driving ban (one year minimum), an unlimited fine, a criminal record, and up to six months in prison. In addition, the conviction for Drug Driving will stay on your licence for 11 years, and your employer will be able to see this. Being convicted for Drug Driving could mean far-reaching consequences. Consider these before anything else.
Visit the GOV.UK website for the law on Drug Driving.