Drug driving




It is illegal to drive if your driving is impaired by drugs or if you have certain drugs above a specified level in your blood.

If the police stop you and think you’re on drugs they will either test you at the roadside using a drug screening device or a "Field Impairment" test to assess your ability to drive.

If drugs are detected in your system or you are deemed impaired by drugs, you’ll be arrested and taken to a police station for blood or urine tests. If the tests show you've taken drugs or show a specified drug above the specified blood limits you could be charged with drug driving.

You don't have to be on illegal drugs to be impaired to drive – 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

On 2 March 2015 the drug driving law changed to make it easier for the police to catch and convict drug drivers.

It is now an offence to drive with certain drugs above a specified level in your blood - just as it is with drink driving. Seventeen legal and illegal drugs are covered by the law, including cannabis, cocaine, ecstasy and ketamine. The limits for all illegal drugs are extremely low – taking even a very small amount of an illegal drug could put you over the limit.

The new offence will work alongside the existing offence of driving whilst impaired through drink or drugs

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 hefty fine 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

Driving under the influence of drugs is extremely dangerous and can affect driving skills in a number of ways.

Cannabis users often think they are safer when they are under the influence because they drive more slowly. However, cannabis slows reaction and decision times. It can also distort perception of time and distance, and result in poorer concentration and control of the vehicle.

Cocaine leads to a sense of over-confidence and this is reflected in user’s driving style. Users typically perform higher risk, more aggressive manoeuvres at greater speeds.

Ecstasy (MDMA) is extremely dangerous to drive on because it results in distorted vision, heightened perception of sounds, altered perception and judgment of risks and an over-confident driving attitude.

During the phase whilst the effects of any illegal drugs are wearing off the user may feel fatigued, affecting concentration levels.

Driving in any of these conditions is a bad idea – not just for the driver but for their passengers and other road users.

THINK! Advice



If you take illegal drugs, plan how to get home without driving as the Government is cracking down on drug drivers.
Consider your options and make plans by saving a taxi number to your phone, having a designated driver, or finding out about options for public transport before you go out.

Some legal medication might affect your ability to drive safely.
Do not drive if you feel drowsy, dizzy, unable to concentrate or make decisions, or if you have blurred or double vision. Check with your doctor or pharmacy team if you think you are affected.

Taking a mixture of drugs to ‘sharpen up’ doesn’t work
– in fact, combining drugs can have dramatic and unpredictable effects 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 visit www.gov.uk/drug-driving-lawOpens new window