Drug Driving

The Issues


Driving while unfit due to drugs is against the law. This applies to prescribed medication or over the counter products as well as illegal substances. In fact driving while unfit through drugs is just as dangerous as drink driving. The effects of some drugs can last for some time after use and include slower reaction times, poor concentration, sleepiness, fatigue, confused thinking, distorted perception and over confidence.


The Drugs


Cannabis is a relaxant and may reduce a person’s ability to react in pressurised situations on the road. Cannabis also affects a drivers concentration and can make a person unsteady and give them blurred vision. Smoking or eating cannabis has the following effects on driving:


  • Slower reaction times and sleepiness
  • Imparied driving
  • Distorted perception, poor concentration and forgetfullness


The most intense effects last at least 2-4 hours, but if eaten can last longer. Combining cannabis with even a small amount of alcohol can magnify the negative effects and is particularly dangerous.


Cocaine gives people a false sense of security and can heighten a persons’ perception of light and sound. Taking cocaine has the following effects on driving:


  • Over confidence and increased risk taking
  • Distorted perception
  • Erratic behaviour and paranoia 
  • Auditory hallucinations


Concaine is a stimulant of the mind and can make you feel alert for approximately 1 hour. During this time you may react inappropriately. As the effects wear off the danger of falling asleep at the wheel is high and this effect may even be present the day after. Combining cocaine with alcohol or other drugs can produce other unexpected and dangerous effects.


Ecstacy makes people think they’re better drivers than they are. This feeling of invincibility changes the way a person drives, making them a greater danger on the road. Taking ecstacy has the following effects on driving:


  • Distorted perception and confusion
  • Blurred vision
  • Anxiety and paranoia
  • Nausea
  • Increased risk taking, agression and over confidence


The most intense effects last approximately 4 hours, followed by a period of around 6 hours when impairment may still exist. These effects can be longer depending on the person. Ecstacy is a stimulant of the mind and can make you feel alert, but as the effects wear off you can experience severe tiredness and fatigue, making driving dangerous.


Speed reduces your attention span whilst driving, making you less likely to react to potential dangers or stop where necessary. Speed has the following effects on driving:


  • Headaches and dizziness
  • Irregular heartbeat and breathing
  • Irritation and cramps
  • Loss of co-ordination, resulting in a person collapsing


The acute effects usually last 3-4 hours, but as with all drugs these vary from person to person. Speed is a mental stimulant and can make you feel alert and confident but make you feel anxious, restless and overly excited as the effects wear off. The “come down” effects can include tension, rapid mood swings, depression, sleep problems, total exhaustion and fatigue.


The Consequences


If convicted for driving while unfit through drugs, drivers face:


  • A minimum 12 month driving ban
  • A fine of up to £5,000
  • Up to 6 months’ imprisonment