Drug-Related Driving Offences – The UK law

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Drug-Related Driving Offences – The UK law

2017 update to Drug Driving Laws Makes It Easier for Police To Prosecute.

The UK drug driving laws include a range of legal limits spanning seventeen controlled drugs, some illegal, some legal. It is an offence to be over the prescribed limit for any of these substances and you can be prosecuted whether or not there is evidence that your driving has been affected.

Government figures show that there were more than 11,000 drug driving prosecutions in the UK in 2019, a 20% increase on the previous year, according to the Ministry Of Justice.

The penalties for drug-related driving offences can include a minimum 12 month driving ban, up to 6 months custodial sentence, an unlimited fine, a criminal record and your driving licence will show you have been convicted for drug driving: this will last for 11 years. Other implications include the obvious detrimental effects to your lifestyle and possibly your career. Those convicted may no longer be granted entry into the USA.

The police can carry out roadside tests for cocaine and cannabis, and screen for other drugs at the police station, including ecstasy, heroin, ketamine and LSD. With prescription drugs, it is an offence to drive while exceeding the stated limits, and also an offence to drive under the influence of the listed drugs if they have not been medically prescribed. In neither case - legal or prescribed substances - do the police have to provide evidence of impaired driving in order to secure a prosecution.

The government website ( lists the following prescription drugs which, if you are taking, you should consult with your doctor about your ability to drive:

  • amphetamine, e.g. dexamphetamine or selegiline
  • clonazepam
  • diazepam
  • flunitrazepam
  • lorazepam
  • methadone
  • morphine or opiate and opioid-based drugs, eg codeine, tramadol or fentanyl
  • oxazepam
  • temazepam

and says:

“You can drive after taking these drugs if:

you’ve been prescribed them and followed advice on how to take them by a healthcare professional

they aren’t causing you to be unfit to drive even if you’re above the specified limits

You could be prosecuted if you drive with certain levels of these drugs in your body and you haven’t been prescribed them.”

Get in touch with our drug driving solicitors in London

Nelson Guest & Partners' motoring lawyers are highly experienced in the intricacies of drug driving law and have been successfully defending our many clients for more than 25 years. To discuss your case in the strictest confidence, free of charge and obligation, please contact us on 0208 309 5010 or email