Most of us understand the dangers of drink driving, but may not be so clear on the risks and consequences of drug driving.

The Home Office recently stated that roadside drug-testing devices similar to the breathalysers used for drink driving could be introduced in Britain within two years.¹ At the beginning of this year (2014), multiple UK police forces were given these “drugalysers” to test suspected drug drivers for cannabis.²

Similar devices are already used in Australia where police can, in just five minutes, test for MDMA, methamphetamine (found in speed and crystal meth) and THC, the active component in cannabis.³

Check out this interactive guide which shows the effect each illegal drug can have on driving:

the effects of drug driving [External website, not affiliated with Insure The Box Limited]

Did you know?

Drug driving is thought to play a part in up to half of all road deaths.⁴

The penalties:

  • A minimum 12-month driving ban
  • A criminal record
  • A fine of up to £5000 or up to 6 months in prison, or both⁵

Other repercussions

  • A specific record on your driving licence for eleven years that lists a drug driving conviction
  • Car insurance will increase substantially
  • Potential employers will see the conviction if you have to produce your licence
  • If convicted of causing death by dangerous driving, you will receive a prison sentence of up to fourteen years – as well as having to live with the guilt of your actions.
  • Difficulties entering countries such as the USA

A new law that would make drug driving an offence in its own right is expected to come into power in the summer this year (2014).⁶

This will allow police to simply have to show that a driver had taken drugs, not that they were impaired by them. This is the same as the current law for drink driving. ⁷

It’s not just illegal drugs that can impair your driving…

Some prescription drugs can cause side-effects such as drowsiness, weakened judgement and a lack of confidence – all of which could decrease your ability to drive safely. These effects can be more intense if the medicine is not taken properly. ⁸

The government’s planned update to drug-driving laws is expected to include an explanation of exactly which prescription drugs can affect you in this way, and how much you are legally allowed to take. ⁹

It should also state that people who take prescription drugs will have a legal defence (and will therefore not be likely to be prosecuted) as long as they have not:

  • Taken more than the recommended dose of their medicine and;
  • Ignored the advice about their medicine given in the manufacturer’s information leaflet. ¹⁰

So remember: drug driving is not worth the risk. If you are taking prescription drugs that may affect your driving always read the instructions carefully and discuss any concerns you have with your GP.

Here are some useful links:



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