Drug Driving

Is drug driving against the law?

It is an offence to drive whilst unfit through drugs. Many people think that if they drive under the influence of drugs a vehicle search and a potential charge of possession is all they have to be worried about. In actual fact, the law states in the Road Traffic Act 1988 (c. 52) that it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle whilst unfit through drugs.

'My time in prison still gives me nightmares' - Drive drug-free

Do drugs impair your 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
  • Inability to concentrate properly
  • Nausea, hallucinations
  • Panic attacks
  • Paranoia
  • Tremors (or ‘the shakes’)
  • Dizziness
  • Tiredness

In such a condition, it is a bad idea to be behind the wheel of a car, for the driver and their passengers.

Can the police spot a drug driver?

The police are on the look out now more than ever and aside from just the erratic driving behaviour, know all the signs to spot a drug driver.

Can the police test for drugs?

Yes, the Police can detect and prove a drug driving offence. One specific test is the Field Impairment Assessment. It is conducted by the roadside and is based on observation of impairment. Police use five field impairment tests which are simple to complete if the person is not affected by any substance – but difficult if they are.

What will happen if you get caught?

The consequences of a drug drive conviction are devastating and far reaching. The penalties are similar to that for drink driving. They will receive:

  • A minimum 12-month driving ban
  • A criminal record
  • A fine of up to £5000


  • There will be a specific record on your driving licence for 11 years that details a conviction for drug driving;
  • If the driver is convicted of causing death by dangerous driving, they will receive a prison sentence of up to 14 years;
  • If they drive for work their employer will see the conviction when they have to produce their licence;
  • Car insurance will increase significantly;
  • Any drug-related conviction may mean encountering difficulties getting permission to enter countries such as the USA