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Adam Jolley

Drug-driving cases hit new high


As drug-driving arrests increase, motorists are being urged to check any medication carefully, particularly those that suffer from hay fever, before getting behind the wheel. 

Woman taking pills in carThe number of motorists charged with drug-driving has increased dramatically over the last 12 months, with prescription medication cases accounting for much of the rise.

In 2015, 1,686 drivers were caught drug-driving, compared with only 738 in 2014 – a rise of approximately 140%.

That's according to new data obtained by via a freedom of information (FOI) request.

Of the one in seven drivers who admitted to the offence, the majority were taking prescription medication rather than illegal drugs.

Motorists 4 times more likely to drive on legal drugs

This rise coincides with changes to the law that came into effect in March last year, which saw new road-side drug screening devices introduced.

New drug-driving limits for a wider variety of drugs – both illegal and prescription - were also brought in.

Many of the guilty drivers were under the influence of class A to C drugs, such as cocaine, ecstasy, and cannabis. 

However, British motorists are four times more likely to drive under the influence of legal drugs, such as diazepam and codeine, than their contraband counterparts.

1 in 3 drivers suffer from hay fever 

Man with hay fever sneezing

Britain’s hay fever sufferers could be at particular risk of inadvertently committing a drug-driving offence.

More than a third of motorists across the country suffer from the pollen-affliction. 

And, according to the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, some hay fever medications can have side-effects that could impair your driving ability.

But one in seven drivers who suffer admit to not reading the advice leaflet before they take their medication.

1 in 15 admit their driving has been impaired

Perhaps worryingly, one in 15 motorists who suffer from hay fever admit that their ability to drive has been impaired while under the influence of medication.

And 4% of these motorists have had an accident as a result.

Some of the more common side effects that these motorists have experienced include drowsiness, lethargy and blurred vision.

Matt Lloyd, motoring expert at, says:  “It’s worrying to see that so many motorists admit to driving while under the influence of drugs – both prescription and illegal. 

‘New drug-driving laws having an impact’

“However, it would seem that new drug-driving laws introduced early last year are having an impact, with the number of drug-driving arrests increasing by 144%.

“This means more motorists who are found to have broken the law are being caught, which in turn will help to make our roads a safer place.

Lloyd adds: “Our advice is simple: before taking any medication people should always read the safety leaflet before driving. 

“Or if unsure they should ask the pharmacist or err on the side of caution and don’t drive, as road safety for themselves and others should be a top priority for any driver.”



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Nigel Avatar
Nigel -
I have been prescribed Solpadol for years, to alleviate chronic back pain. They cause me no problems driving, in fact quite the opposite as back pain can become very distracting. Instructions with the tablets state the following re driving: "However you would not be committing an offence if: - The medicine has been prescribed to treat a dental,or medical problem and - You have taken it according to the instructions given by the prescriber or in the information provided with the medicine and - It was not affecting your ability to safely drive.

Vernon Avatar
Vernon -
No one reads the information leaflet supplied with medication because it is too complicated and tightly-packed printing too small for quick comfortable reading and reading the list of possible side effects not only makes a person feel even sicker but is guaranteed to discourage all but the most foolhardy person from actually taking the medication. After reading about the side effects even the said foolhardy person who actually swallowed the stuff will start imagining he has half of the possible symptoms. If the medication can cause adverse side effects the packaging should carry a mandatory health warning at least as big as that on tobacco products. We are conditioned to follow doctors advice and when medication is prescribed we feel it a duty to take the medication even if we later discover it isn't suitable. It is hard enough to get to see a doctor once without trying to get back in and persuade him to prescribe an alternative and so doctors should bear the responsibility (and the blame) for prescribing unsuitable medication to someone who is to drive and should make suitable enquiries and issue warnings when prescribing. The pharmacist ditto. It really is the limit; local councils issue a leaflet about recycling and immediately expect everyone to be an overnight expert on materials and the government issues dictats requiring every driver to be overnight experts on medication... The fact is most people whose driving ability is impaired by drink or drugs don't discover the fact until it is too late because whatever the substance is, it's primary function is to make a person feel as though they are fine or even better than fine.

mark Avatar
mark -
In Manchester they all drive when somkeing dope

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