What's the law on drug driving?

Are you clued up on the laws around drug driving?
Most drivers know that it’s a criminal offence to get behind the wheel after taking illegal drugs. Well, it’s a criminal offence anyway, whether you’re driving or not.

However, legal drugs – i.e. medication – can also impact your ability to drive, and could land you in trouble if you’re caught taking them without a prescription. Or, if you ignore the advice of a healthcare professional.
Some drivers will have been caught out driving under the influence of legal drugs without realising that they’re breaking the law. That’s why we thought it would be useful to create a handy guide on all you need to know about drug-driving legislation.
Maybe you were caught out in the past. If so, you may have found it difficult getting car insurance as a result – either finding that premiums are really expensive, or that certain insurance providers refuse to cover you altogether.
This is where the Insurance Factory can help. We understand that the past is the past, and we aim to get you back in the driving seat with as little hassle as possible.


What the law says about drugs and driving

As the Gov.UK website explains, it’s against the law to get behind the wheel if you’re either unfit to drive due to taking illegal or legal drugs; or, if you have a certain level of illegal drugs in your blood (even if this doesn’t affect your ability to drive).
When we talk of ‘legal’ drugs, we mean drugs including over-the-counter medicines and prescriptions.

If you’re in any way unsure if you should be driving on a certain, legal drug, always seek advice from the pharmacist, your doctor or another health professional. It’s always worth checking the information leaflet that comes with your medication, too.


Can the police stop you?

A police officer standing at a raodside watching trafficPolice have the power to pull you over if they have reason to suspect that you’re on drugs. In most cases they will ask that you carry out what’s known as a ‘field impairment assessment’.

This will involve a number of different tests, including the officer asking you to prove that you can walk in a straight line.
In some cases, the police will use a roadside drug kit to test if drivers have been using drugs such as cannabis and cocaine.
If the police conclude that you’re unfit to drive through drugs, they’ll arrest you and you’ll be taken to a police station and asked to provide a blood or urine sample. If either test is positive then you’ll be charged with a crime.


What’s the law on prescription medicines?

In England, Wales and Scotland, it’s against the law to drive with legal drugs in your system if they negatively impact your ability to drive.

It’s also illegal to drive if you have levels of a legal drug in your system that hasn’t been prescribed to you – for instance, if you’ve taken someone else’s prescribed medication.
The Gov.UK website shares a list of legal medication where you should seek advice from your doctor about whether you should be driving on it or not. These include:
  • Amphetamine (for instance dexamphetamine or selegiline)
  • Clonazepam
  • Diazepam
  • Flunitrazepam
  • Lorazepam
  • Methadone
  • Morphine or opiate and opioid-based drugs, for instance tramadol, fentanyl or codeine
  • Oxazepam
  • Temazepam
The only instances where you can drive after taking one of the above drugs is if you’ve been prescribed them and follow the advice provided by a healthcare professional on how you need to take them; and if they are not impeding your ability to drive even if you’re above the specified limits.
These laws do not apply to Northern Ireland, however you can still be arrested if you’re deemed unfit to drive through drugs.


What are the penalties if you’re caught drug driving?

A man behind the wheel of a car with his head in his handsUnderstandably, there are severe penalties for people caught drug driving. The exact consequences depend on the case in question, but generally speaking drivers will receive:
  • A 12-month driving ban minimum
  • Unlimited fine
  • Up to six months imprisonment
  • A criminal record
It will also appear on your driving record and licence that you have been convicted of drug driving and this will last for 11 years.
If a driver caused death by dangerous driving under the influence of drugs, they could face a prison sentence of up to 14 years.


What are the other implications?

Being caught driving while on drugs doesn’t just impact your driving record.

It could have further implications on your life, for instance, you could lose your job or fail to secure another job if you drive for a living (for example as a courier). It could also affect your plans to travel, especially to countries like the USA.


Convicted driver insurance from Insurance Factory

Another consequence of being caught drug driving – or for any other offence for that matter – is seeing your insurance costs rise significantly.
Are you ready to get back on the road after a fine or a ban? Maybe you’ve failed to find cover that you can afford up to now? It’s time to talk to the Insurance Factory.

We specialise in convicted driver insurance and will take the time to understand your unique requirements, before finding a policy to suit you – all for a competitive price.
We consider a range of motoring offences, including:
  • Driving without insurance
  • Driving or attempting to drive while over the drink-drive limit
  • Speeding on a motorway
  • Driving in a dangerous manner
  • Driving at a dangerous speed
  • Reckless driving
  • Non-motoring convictions
If you can’t see your conviction listed above, simply give us and call to discuss your requirements with one of our operators on 01212 963 075.

We’ll be able to quickly assess whether or not we can provide you with a convicted driver insurance policy.
We’ve got more than 20 years of industry experience and have access to a leading panel of insurers.
So, when you’re ready, get a free, no-obligation quote.