Check your prescriptions before driving
New drug driving rules came into effect on Monday March 2nd 2015. It is now an offence to drive whilst under the influence of 16 legal and illegal drugs and included in these are some prescription medicines. Kevin Smith highlights the impact of these new rules.
“Motorists should discuss with their doctor how their prescription medication will affect them when driving. You could commit an offence under these new rules if the medication you’ve been prescribed and are using is on the list of 16 drugs, even if you have taken your medication over a long period of time and you feel your driving hasn’t been harmed by them. It’s also a wise precaution to keep a copy of your prescription with you at all times when driving so that you can produce this, should you need to.
“The Department of Transport’s Think campaign outlines how these new rules will be enforced. The police will either test at the roadside using a drug screening device or they’ll use a ‘Field Impairment’ test to assess driving ability. Anyone who has drugs detected in their system or who is shown to have impaired driving ability due to drugs will be arrested and taken to the police station for blood or urine tests.
“The penalties for drug driving are the same as for drink driving – if convicted you will get a minimum 12 month driving ban, a criminal record and a fine of up to £5000 or up to 6 months in prison or, in some cases both. Aside from the financial impact that this could have there are wider consequences such as job loss that can have devastating consequences not only immediately but also for the long term since that could be a catalyst for marital or family break-up.
“The influence of drugs can affect driving in a number of ways and even prescription drugs can cause drivers to feel drowsy, dizzy, unable to concentrate, indecisive, or to experience blurred or double vision. Suffering any of these means that you’re in no condition to be driving a car and it’s not just the driver’s welfare I’m thinking of here but their passengers, other road users and pedestrians who all could feel the impact of an accident due to drug driving.
“Whilst these new rules could present an inconvenience for prescription drug users who may now have to use taxis or public transport to get about that inconvenience is minor compared to the injuries and suffering of passengers, other road users and pedestrians caught up in a road accident which has been caused by the effects of drugs. Drivers taking any of the prescription medications included in the list should take heed of the Department of Transport’s message – Don’t risk it, check it.”
Anyone who has been injured in a road accident caused by a driver under the influence of drugs, who wants to find out more about how to claim, should click here
Content correct at time of publication