Drug driving

It is illegal to drive if your driving is impaired by legal or illegal drugs.

If the police stop you and think you’re on drugs they can do a ‘Field Impairment Assessment’. This is a series of tests that assesses a driver’s capability to drive.

If they think you’re unfit to drive because of taking drugs, you’ll be arrested and will have a blood test at a police station. If the test shows that you’ve taken drugs you could be charged with a crime.

You don’t have to be on illegal drugs to be unfit to drive - many prescription or over-the-counter medicines can also impair your ability to drive. If you’re taking medicines, talk to your doctor, pharmacist or healthcare professional before driving.

More about the drug driving lawOpens new window

Changes to the drug driving law

Drug drive law is changing to make it easier for the police to detect and prosecute drug drivers.

A new offence of driving with certain controlled drugs above specified limits is due to come into force on 2 March 2015. These new rules will mean it will be an offence to be over the specified limits for each drug whilst driving, as it is with drink driving. The new offence will work alongside the existing offence of driving whilst impaired through drink or drugs. Drugs covered by the new rules include cannabis, cocaine, ecstasy and ketamine. The limits for illegal drugs will be extremely low – one smoke of cannabis will put you over the limit.

Latest drug driving announcementsOpens new window
Guidance for health care professionalsOpens new window

The consequences

The penalties for drug driving are the same as for drink driving. If you are convicted you will receive:

  • A minimum 12-month driving ban
  • A criminal record
  • A fine of up to £5000 or up to 6 months in prison or both

The consequences of a drug drive conviction are far reaching and can include:

  • Job loss
  • Loss of independence
  • The shame of having a criminal record
  • Increase in car insurance costs
  • Trouble getting in to countries like the USA

How drugs impair driving

Taking drugs will impair driving skills. Driving whilst under the influence of drugs is extremely dangerous and can affect driving in numerous ways.

Drug drivers can suffer from slower reaction times, erratic and aggressive behaviour, an inability to concentrate properly, nausea, hallucinations, panic attacks, paranoia, tremors (or ‘the shakes’) dizziness and fatigue. In such a condition, it is a bad idea to be behind the wheel of a car, for the driver and their passengers.

During the phase whilst the effects of drugs are wearing off, the taker may feel fatigued, which will affect their concentration whilst driving.

THINK! Advice

Taking drugs which haven’t been legitimately supplied is illegal. If you do take drugs, plan how to get home without driving as the Government is cracking down on drug drivers
Consider your options and make plans for example by saving a taxi number to your phone, or finding out about public transport routes and times before you go out

Taking a mixture of drugs to ‘sharpen up’ doesn’t work
– in fact, combining drugs can have dramatic and unpredictable effect on a user’s state and ability to drive

Don't accept a lift from a driver you know has taken drugs

For more information and advice about drugs Talk to FrankOpens new window
Watch the drug drive campaign video - your eyes will give you away

WATCH: THINK! drug drive videos

DOWNLOAD: Print off a campaign poster

More from THINK!

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THINK! Education

THINK! Resource Centre

THINK! road safety education resources organised into lesson packs by age and key stage: