Health and Driving

Driving and drugs/medicines

Driving while impaired by drugs is illegal and dangerous. While in recent years there has been much attention paid to those drivers affected by illegal drugs, the fact remains that people are killed or injured because of drivers who should not be driving because of medicines they have taken too.

At the same time, there is no distinction between an offence involving illegal drugs and one that involved medicinal ones, (or for that matter driving while impaired by drink), so the social stigma of having the offence on your licence may be considerable.

People who drive under the influence of drugs will lose their licence in the same way as drink drivers, and have it recorded on their licence.

Prescription medicines

When you are prescribed a medicine either your doctor or pharmacist should warn you of any effect, or likely effect on driving. But this cannot be guaranteed.

It is always best to ask whether the medicine will have any affect, firstly so you are aware, and secondly because it might be possible for the doctor to prescribe a different medicine that won't have this side effect, if driving is important to you.

Failing to raise the question can leave you reading the label, or the information leaflet and discovering long after you have left the surgery or the pharmacy that you shouldn't be driving.

Over the counter medicines

Just because a medicine does not need a prescription doesn't mean it won't affect your driving.

Reading the label and leaflet is vital while asking the advice of a doctor or the pharmacist too will help ensure you obtain a medicine with which you can continue to drive or that you don't drive while taking a medicine with which you shouldn't.

Department for Transport 'Think!' campaign – legal drugs »

Illness and injury

There are many medical conditions which mean that you cannot drive.

If you're told that you have any major condition it is always wise to ask the doctor if you should drive, and also whether or not you should inform the DVLA.

If you're told by a Doctor to inform the DVLA then it is an offence not to do so.

Privacy concerns mean that under normal conditions the doctor cannot tell DVLA directly.

The AA would like all doctors to assume that every patient is a driver and therefore to give everyone advice when a condition means they should not drive – surely it is better that a minority of patients get advice they don't need rather than that drivers don't get advice they do need.

DVLA – medical rules for drivers »

Join the discussion in the AA zone


3 February 2010