Research by Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) found that 17% of drivers who die in road crashes (more than one in six) have traces of illegal drugs in their system, which may have affected their driving.

Legal and illegal drugs can affect a driver’s body and mind, which can include:

  • Slower Reaction Times
  • Poor Concentration
  • Sleepiness/Fatigue
  • Confused Thinking
  • Distorted Perception
  • Over-Confidence
  • Blurred Vision

If you’re on prescribed medication, make sure you read the information leaflet that came with the medicine before driving. If in doubt speak to your doctor or pharmacist.

What can you do to be a good driver?

  • Check yourself. If you’re on medication but think it may be affecting your ability to drive, don’t risk it and have a chat with a doctor or pharmacist.
  • Only ever drive when you are sure that you’re in complete control of yourself and your vehicle. If you can’t be sure, find another way to travel.
  • Let your friends know up front that you’re not into drugs and driving so if they’re going to put pressure on, they can save it and find another ride.
  • Think about how you would handle a situation if you’re ever a passenger but you think that the driver may be unsafe due to drugs. What would you say? How could you remove yourself from that situation? How could you persuade the driver not to drive?

What’s the law?

You’re breaking the law if you’re driving and:

  • You’re unfit to drive because you’re on legal or illegal drugs.
  • You have certain levels of illegal drugs in your blood (even if they haven’t affected your driving).

What’s the punishment?

If you’re convicted of drug driving you’ll get:

  • A minimum 1 year driving ban.
  • An unlimited fine.
  • Up to 6 months in prison.
  • A criminal record.
  • Your driving licence will also show you’ve been convicted for drug driving, this will last for 11 years.
  • The penalty for causing death by dangerous driving under the influence of drugs is a prison sentence of up to 14 years.


Josh's Story

A young motorist who had taken Ecstasy and Cocaine was jailed for seven years after his dangerous driving caused the death of two friends. Unqualified driver Josh had been driving too fast to negotiate a bend when he ploughed into a wall. The impact caused the car to literally spilt in two.

Josh, 21, was found to be one-and-a-half times over the drink drive limit and had traces of Ecstasy and Cocaine in his blood after the accident. He had been seen drinking during the day and a number of witnesses reported the car travelling excessively fast and slewing across the road. Josh survived the crash with minor injuries but his best friend Paul, 18, and another friend Callum, 20, were killed.

Dr Gavin
Accident and Emergency Consultant