A simples guide

Drug driving

We all know that drink driving is against the law. And after many years of public service announcements, not many of us would contemplate getting behind the wheel after having a few drinks.


But it seems we’re not quite so sensible when it comes to drug driving. 35 of the 43 police forces in England and Wales reported making almost 8,000 arrests of those driving under the influence of drugs between March 2015 and April 2016.

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What's considered?

These high figures are a result of new legislation that came into force in March 2015 making it an offence to drive after taking certain illegal drugs or prescription drugs above prescribed levels. This meant the police no longer had to prove that your driving was impaired because of illegal substances. So even if your driving seems to be ok, you could still be charged if you’re caught over the limit for these drugs and medications:


Illegal drugs

  • ZE (metabolite of cocaine)
  • Cannabis
  • Cocaine
  • Ecstasy
  • Heroin
  • Ketamine
  • LSD
  • Methylamphetamine


Prescription drugs

  • amphetamine, e.g. dexamphetamine or selegiline
  • clonazepam
  • diazepam
  • flunitrazepam
  • lorazepam
  • methadone
  • morphine or opiate and opioid-based drugs, eg codeine, tramadol or fentanyl
  • oxazepam
  • temazepam


The lists covers a variety of sedatives and stimulants that can impair your ability to drive and could lead to a variety of effects on your driving ability:

  • Slower reaction times
  • Impaired co-ordination
  • Blurred vision
  • Over-confidence
  • Loss of concentration
  • Increased risk-taking behaviour
  • Inappropriate driving
  • Inability to judge distances and speeds properly

Prescription drugs

While you can’t be prosecuted for taking prescription drugs within the prescribed limits, you must obtain doctor’s advice and adhere to their recommendations, including if they advise you not to drive while you’re taking them.

Prescription drugs

Getting caught

Police have been issued with roadside drug testing kits to see if you have high levels of either cannabis or cocaine in your blood there and then, while those suspected of having high levels of other substances will have to go to a police station for more tests.

If you’re caught, you could face a minimum 12-month driving ban, up to six months in prison, an unlimited fine and a criminal record, not to mention the impact it will have on your insurance premiums.

When facing a conviction like this, we’re sure that the last thing on your mind is your insurance policy. But with this on your record, your premium could well increase. If you do have a conviction, you must notify your insurer and if you have a driving ban, it might be a good idea to cancel your insurance and SORN your vehicle if it is to be kept off the road.

Once you’re back in the driving seat, you may find that some insurers will not offer you cover, as many of the household names refuse to insure those with drug driving convictions. However, there are a number of specialist insurers who could provide you with cover. It may be the case though, that you have to accept that it’s probably going to cost you a lot more than it did before.

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