‘Tis the season for coughs, colds and general lurgy. But be careful what medicines you take, because they could get you fined or banned.
Since 2017, the DVLA reports that drug-driving related convictions have increased fourfold. We might think of Christmas as the time when police forces are cracking down on drink drivers (and they are) but there’s a heavy focus on drugs too. Yet what many fail to realise is that ‘drugs’ doesn’t just mean the things designed to get you high. It can also mean the products designed to treat health problems.
Which drugs can cause driving problems?
It’s against the law to get behind the wheel of a rental van or hire car (or any other vehicle) if your driving is affected by drugs, legal or illegal. It’s also against the law to drive with certain levels of illegal drugs in your system (whether they have affected your driving or not).
Legal drugs are those which you have bought over the counter or have been prescribed. According to gov.uk if you’ve been prescribed any of the following drugs you should check with your doctor to ensure you are able to drive:
- Amphetamine, for example dexamphetamine or selegiline
- Morphine or opiate and opioid-based drugs, for example codeine, tramadol or fentanyl
The name of the drug alone doesn’t always indicate the active ingredients it contains. Everyday brand names such as Panadeine, Nurofen Plus and Mersyndol contain codeine, so it’s important to check the ingredients before you drive.
Providing you are taking prescription drugs that have been prescribed for you, and you follow the instructions and they are not affecting your driving, you’re fit to drive.
But what if they do affect your driving?
What are the penalties for drug driving?
A drug driving conviction can result in an unlimited fine, a criminal record, a 1 year driving ban (minimum) and up to 6 months in prison. Your licence will also record your conviction for 11 years. So if you’re feeling under the weather this winter and you need medication before you drive one of our rental vehicles, do ensure the medication you take won’t land you in trouble.