Nine medicines which are legal but could land you with a drug-driving charge
If you take medicines which are prescribed or bought over-the-counter, you might think that means you can drive safely after taking them.
But there are nine legal drugs used for medicinal purposes which could mean you end up with a drug-driving conviction.
They include relatively common painkillers such as codeine.
New rules governing their use by drivers were introduced in 2015.
And the conviction rates for drivers arrested over their use is now 98%, reports the Daily Mirror – the same as for drink-driving arrests.
These are the legal drugs you need to be very careful about using before driving:
Clonazepam (such as Klonopin)- used as an anti-convulsant or anti-epileptic drug, and also used to treat panic attacks;
Diazepam (such as Valium) – used to treat anxiety disorders, alcohol withdrawal symptoms, or muscle spasms.
Flunitrazepam (such as Rohypnol) – a powerful sedative.
Lorazepam (such as Ativan) – used to treat anxiety disorders.
Methadone (such as Dolophine)- used to treat drug addiction
Morphine or opiates and opioid-based drugs like codeine, tramadol (such as Ultram and Conzip) or fentanyl – used to treat pain.
Oxazepam – used for the treatment of anxiety and insomnia.
Temazepam – used to treat anxiety or inability to sleep.
In addition, amphetamines – for example dexamphetamine or selegiline – come under these laws, although a slightly different approach is taken which balances its legitimate use for medical purposes against its abuse.
For each drug, there is a threshold for the amount that is allowed in the blood.
But there’s no specific guidance on what amounts of dosage would equate to being over the specified limits – the Government says there are too many variables, such as physical characteristics, where each person will metabolise the drug at different rates. Eating or drinking will also have an effect on the blood concentration.
The police can stop you and make you do a ‘field impairment assessment’ if they think you’re on drugs. This is a series of tests such as asking you to walk in a straight line. They can also use a roadside drug kit to screen for cannabis and cocaine.
If they think you’re unfit to drive because of taking drugs, you’ll be arrested and will have to take a blood or urine test at a police station.
However 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; or they aren’t causing you to be unfit to drive even if you’re above the specified limits.
There is also a list of eight illegal drugs where there is a ‘zero tolerance’ approach to people caught driving with the drugs in their system, and where the threshold is very low. These are heroin, cannabis, MDMA, ketamine, benzoylecgonine, LSD, methylamphetamine, and cocaine.
Thanks to the Nottingham Post for this story
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