Last year, new regulations came into effect in Wales and England to tackle drug driving. People are not allowed to drive with low levels of illegal drugs, including cannabis and cocaine, in their system (no surprises there), but also if they are over the limit for certain prescription drugs.
A new roadside swab test was introduced which lets police test for cannabis and cocaine on the scene. Other drugs can be tested for at the lab. If found guilty, you’ll most likely get a minimum 1 year ban on driving, an unlimited fine, up to 6 months in jail, a criminal record and a record on your driving license for 11 years. Your insurance will skyrocket, anyone who wants to hire you in the future will see the record on your license, and you’ll find it tricky to travel to places like America.
The prescription drugs covered are used to treat a variety of things - from pain to depression to Parkinson’s. The law doesn’t say you can’t drive if you’re on the specified medication, it just lays down certain boundaries. As long as you are taking only your prescribed dose – and it isn’t affecting your driving – you’ll probably be fine.
Here’s a list of the prescription medication covered by drug driving laws:
- Amphetamine (including dexamphetamine or selegiline)
- morphine or opiate and opioid-based drugs (including codeine, tramadol and fentanyl)
You can drive if:
- If you have been prescribed this medication and consulted a doctor or pharmacist about its effects.
- If you’ve been prescribed this medication and it isn’t affecting your driving – even if you are over the limit.
Don't drive if:
- You have taken illegal drugs.
- You have been prescription this medication and it is affecting your driving - even if you are under the limit.
- You are over the limit for medication and haven’t been prescribed it.
If you are on any of the prescription medication in the list above and feel uneasy, chat to your GP or pharmacist about whether you can continue driving. It’s also best to make sure you travel with a prescription slip just in case you’re pulled over by the police.
And the good news? The number of drug drive arrests has risen by up to 800% in some places since this legislation came into play. That means the roads are safer for us all.
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