Drugs & driving


Driving whilst under the influence of drugs is against the law.

One to watch: THINK! Drug drive paranoia

THINK! Drug Drive advert warns people who drive under the influence of drugs that a change in the law means it’s now easier to get caught.

One to watch: Taking drugs and driving, don't.

This applies to both illegal drugs and prescribed or over-the-counter medication. The effects of taking drugs may last for some time after use and probably longer than you may think.

Drugs can affect a person’s judgement, concentration and vision, which are all extremely important for driving, and therefore makes the driver extremely dangerous on the road.

If you are concerned about prescribed or over-the-counter medication, then consult your doctor or pharmacist and they can advise you on whether your ability to drive will be affected.

The law

One to watch: Drug drive law: Am I fit to drive?

The above short campaign video reminds people taking medicines to check with their doctor or pharmacist before getting behind the wheel.

Police can undertake roadside tests to determine whether a person is unfit to drive because they are under the influence of drugs. They are also trained to recognise when a person has taken drugs. Depending on the results of the tests, the police will decide whether to arrest the driver or not.

The penalty for driving under the influence of drugs

If you are found to be under the influence of drugs and driving, the penalties are as severe as those for drinking and driving.

The penalties could be:

  • a minimum one year driving ban
  • an unlimited fine
  • up to six months in prison
  • a criminal record

For a repeat or second offence, the penalty is stricter and the minimum period for disqualification is longer.

If a death has been caused, as a result of the driver being under the influence of drugs, then a sentence of up to 14 years in prison may be imposed.

The consequences

Are far reaching and can include

  • Loss of your job
  • Increase in car insurance
  • Difficulties when travelling aboard especially to the USA.
  • Your driving licence will also show you’ve been convicted for drug driving. This will last for 11 years.

Essex Police explain what happens when you are Drug driving

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