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Driving and Drugs

By: Jack Claridge - Updated: 11 Jan 2015 | comments*Discuss
Driving Drugs Lsd Cocaine Ecstasy

It is becoming increasingly common for drivers - both learners and fully qualified - to be found under the influence of an illegal substance whilst in charge of their motor vehicle.

Types of Drugs

There are many different types of drugs that can cause a driver to be under the influence whilst driving. The most common illegal drugs are:

LSD (Lysergic Acid Diethylamide)

LSD is a perception-altering drug that can be detected within the human body up to two to three days after first taking it. It can bring about hallucinations in the user and has often be said to cause what are known as 'bad trips' or flashbacks of hallucinations had at the time of first ingesting.


Cannabis is a more widely available and lesser classified drug but it can still cause the user to suffer from a loss of co-ordination, fatigue, a reduction in hand/eye co-ordination and can alter their perception of their surroundings. It is one of the most common drugs for drivers to be tested for, and found to be in possession of.


Unfortunately with the increase in the drug culture in the United Kingdom - as throughout the Western World - Cocaine is now becoming a much more easily available drug. Once considered to be the drug of the rich and famous cocaine is now readily available in suburban areas. Cocaine affects the user's ability to make logical judgements and also distorts their perception of the world around them. In addition it heightens their confidence and can induce bouts of risk-taking that would not be evident in the user's behaviour under normal circumstances.


Another drug which is similar in many ways to LSD; Ecstasy causes a distortion of the user's reality and also brings about a period of hallucination which can also result in so-called 'bad trips' and flashbacks. Ecstasy can also cause heightened periods of depression in its user as well as potentially causing heart attacks.

It is also important to mention prescription medication as well. There are many different prescription medications available today which cause drowsiness and a reduction in response times. If you are under medical supervision you should consult your doctor as to the nature of any medication prescribed to you. In addition all medications carry very specific instructions for use and it is advised you heed these instructions especially when in charge of a motor vehicle or other heavy machinery.

Symptoms of Drug Use Whilst Driving

There are many different symptoms that can be attributed to drugs whilst driving and on occasion they can manifest themselves as a series of symptoms as opposed to just one or two. A police officer - if you are asked to stop whilst driving - will be looking for a number of these symptoms. They include:

  • Difficulty responding to questioning
  • Inability to think coherently
  • Aggressive behaviour
  • Shaking
  • Blurred Vision
  • Impaired Co-Ordination

These symptoms can manifest themselves as more than one at any given time so an officer of the law will look for these signs. Some of them may be present in an individual who is under the influence of prescribed medication.


The penalties for driving under the influence of an illegal drug are the same as those laid down for Drink Driving. If you are found guilty of being under the influence of an illegal drug whilst in charge of a vehicle you can reasonably expect a fine, a driving ban, or a custodial sentence.

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@tonz. The DVLA make that decision based on the information you have given with them and on medical reports etc. So it's not something we can give you a yes or no answer to.
YourDrivingLicence - 13-Jan-15 @ 11:47 AM
I,ve been clean of drugs and alcohol now for five years i,m now working full time. I was being picked up to and from work,but now the jobs are a lot further afield and desperately need to pass my test and get my own motor vehicle. I am stable and have been fora while. I have just sent for my provisional licence but they have to send me a letter for some moreinformation. And when they do i will be informing them of my prescription. What i need to know is will i be able to get my licence.
tonz - 11-Jan-15 @ 10:39 AM
It is not only illegal drugs. Even prescribed drugs can lead you to be "under the influence". And unlike with alcohol, there are no fixed measurements / blood or breath tests. Therefore it is based on roadside tests which test coordination but in reality are not a fair indication. The law needs to be changed on this issue. Whilst it is clear that you cannot let people drive under the influence of drugs that impairs their ability as that is dangerous, it must be made clearer what is considered "under the influence" for the purpose of justice and not based on some random road-side tests.
EarlPurple - 21-Mar-13 @ 11:23 AM
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