Car Accidents > Car Safety Guides > Drug driving

Driving whilst under the influence of drugs

Drug driving is the less talked about of the two driving offences, but is considered just as dangerous and common as drink driving. In fact, research shows that almost a quarter (22%) of those killed in road traffic accidents in the UK have illegal drugs in their bloodstream.

Effects of drug driving

Both illegal drugs and medicinal drugs can have a number of effects on the brain and therefore reduce your ability to drive safely. Driving while under the influence of drugs not only impairs your concentration, judgement and vision, it can also cause:

*Impairment caused by drugs can vary according to the individual, drug type, dosage, the length of time the drugs stays in your body, or if the drug has been taken with other drugs or alcohol.

Drug testing

Police can carry out roadside tests to judge whether you're unfit to drive due to drug intake, but they can't test for the presence of drugs in your body. Refusal to participate in the tests is an offence in the same way as failure to provide a breath test under suspicion of drink driving.

If you are deemed unfit to drive, you'll be arrested and taken to the police station where you may be tested for the presence of drugs through a urine or blood test. The police do not have to wait for you to sober up or resume consciousness in order to do this.


Being caught driving while under the influence of drugs is a serious offence and carries similar penalties as drink driving a one-year driving ban and a fine of up to 5,000, or up to six months in jail (14 years if convicted of causing death by dangerous driving while under the influence of drugs). You can also expect o receive a heavy penalty if you are caught in possession of illegal drugs.

Remember, drink and drug driving are not worth the risk. They are both serious motoring offences that not only jeopardise your safety, but also the safety of other road users.