These everyday medicines could get you fined or banned from driving

These everyday medicines could get you fined or banned from driving
December’s here, bringing with it the usual unwelcome rise in coughs, sneezes and sniffles for a nation of road users.

Medicated motorists beware. Many legal medicines and widely-used painkillers could impair your driving – and it’s an offence in England, Scotland, and Wales to drive with specified limits of certain drugs in your blood.

Drivers convicted for drug-driving face a minimum one-year ban and a criminal record – so it pays to be vigilant when using even common prescription drugs. 

Codeine, for example, which is found in painkillers like Nurofen Plus is used to treat the symptoms of the common cold, and can cause drowsiness in users.

The active ingredient is also found in Migraleve, Syndol and Boots branded tablets. It can lead to dizziness and may even cause changes to your hearing which could lead to confusion behind the wheel if you're not used to it.

According to the government1, you should ask your doctor whether you should drive if you’ve been prescribed any of the following:

  • amphetamine, for example dexamphetamine or selegiline
  • clonazepam
  • diazepam
  • flunitrazepam
  • lorazepam
  • methadone
  • morphine or opiate and opioid-based drugs, for example codeine, tramadol or fentanyl
  • oxazepam
  • temazepam


If police suspect a motorist of driving under the influence of drugs they can carry out a ‘field impairment assessment’ – a series of tests that could see you asked to walk in a straight line, for example.

Newly available DrugWipes – dubbed “drugalysers” – which use a mouth swab to screen for cannabis and cocaine, can also be used.

Justice secretary Humza Yousef welcomed a Police Scotland anti drink and drug-driving campaign, launched last week.

He said: "The message is unequivocal. If you get pulled over, you are going to get tested for drink and drugs. And if you are found to have traces of either, there will be some really serious consequences."2

It was revealed in December last year that police forces across the UK increased drug-driving enforcement with staggering results.

Just last month, DVLA figures showed the number of motorists convicted of drug-driving had increased fourfold since 2017.

Around 20,000 motorists were convicted after using substances in the previous 12 months. These numbers may include motorists convicted for driving under the influence of prescription drugs.

Failing to inform the DVLA of a medical condition and a prescription that can affect your driving can see you fined as much as £1,000.


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