Drugs and driving legislation

Under existing UK drug driving laws, it’s an offence to drive whilst impaired through drugs regardless of whether or not they’re being used legitimately. This means that if a person’s driving is found to be impaired by medicines, even if they’re taken as prescribed or as recommended in the patient information leaflet (PIL), they may still be prosecuted.

Additional legislation makes it an offence to drive while over specified limits for certain controlled drugs, whether your driving is impaired or not. However, a "medical defence" can be raised by people taking medicines as instructed by a healthcare professional or as recommended in the PIL, providing their driving is not impaired. This offence only applies to England, Wales and Scotland and doesn’t replace any existing offences of driving whilst impaired through drugs.

Use this guide to help you advise people who are on medicines that could impair their driving and how the drug driving rules will affect them.


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