If you are taking prescribed medication, you may not consider that you could be committing an offense by driving with drugs.
However, a recent amendment to the Police Crimes Sentencing and Courts Act 2022 has resulted in some changes to the law.
Bilal Hussian, serious injury lawyer at Irwin Mitchell, outlined key information every driver needs to know to avoid being hit with a driving ban or custodial sentence.
For years, many have called for the law to be revised to create new sentencing guidelines for those convicted of traffic offences.
New guidelines have been created under section 86, giving courts new powers to impose life sentences.
The change affects sentences handed down under section 1 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 for causing death by dangerous driving and section 3A of the Road Traffic Act 1988 for causing death by careless driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Along with the new guidelines created under the act, there are new rules about prescribed medications that can be taken while driving.
Prescription drugs that could prohibit you from driving and risk jail time:
Driving while taking prescription or over-the-counter medications can be very dangerous and can affect your driving in many ways, such as using illegal drugs.
It is a driving offense if you have exceeded specified limits of certain drugs in your blood and they were not prescribed to you.
Medication includes amphetamine, clonazepam, diazepam, flunitrazepam, lorazepam, methadone, morphine, or opiate and opioid medications (e.g. codeine, tramadol, or fentanyl), l oxazepam and temazepam.
However, you can only drive legally after taking these medications if you have been prescribed them and followed the advice on how to take them from a medical professional.
If you’re prescribed medication and aren’t sure if you should drive, talk to your doctor, pharmacist, or healthcare professional.
What are the consequences of drugged driving?
The police can arrest you and give you an “impairment assessment” if they think you are using drugs.
This includes a series of tests, such as asking you to walk in a straight line. If they think you’re not fit to drive because you’ve been using drugs, you’ll be pulled over and have to have your blood or urine tested at a police station.
You could be charged with a crime if the test shows you used drugs.
You can also be sued if you drive over the legal threshold of the above medications and they were not prescribed to you.
But if a driver were to kill someone while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you could spend your life behind bars.
Additionally, your driver’s license will also show that you have been convicted of impaired driving for 11 years.