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Fitness to drive

Explains the rights that you have to drive, what information you need to tell the Driver & Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) and how to appeal if your driving licence is taken away.

Can I drive if I'm taking prescribed medication?

It depends what effect the medication has on your ability to drive. It is illegal to drive or attempt to drive if your ability to do so is impaired by drugs, including prescribed medication for a mental health problem. You should ask the doctor who prescribed your medication whether it is likely to affect your ability to drive.

If you are taking your medicine as directed by your doctor and your driving is not impaired then you are not breaking the law. Check the leaflet that comes with your medicine for information on how it might affect your driving. You may wish to avoid driving while taking this medicine until you know how it affects you.

It is also an offence to drive, attempt to drive, or to be in charge of a motor vehicle with a specified controlled drug in the body above a certain limit.

Some of the drugs affected by this offence are prescribed for mental health problems – for example:

How this law might affect you

The police have powers to test and arrest drivers who are suspected of driving having taken any of these drugs in excess of the specified levels. You will only commit the offence if, when you drive, the amount of the drug in your blood exceeds a certain limit.

The Department of Transport has published guidance for healthcare professionals which emphasises that a person who is prescribed any of the above listed drugs is unlikely to be in breach of the new law as the specified dosage is higher than that which is usually prescribed.

Medical defence

Even if the amount of the drug in your blood does exceed the specified limit, you will be able to raise a medical defence to the new offence as long as:

  • you are taking your medication in accordance with instructions given by the doctor who prescribed it and/or the information in the leaflet accompanying the medication
  • you have not been told that you mustn't drive whilst taking the medication, and
  • your driving is not impaired.

The guidance suggests that, if you are taking any of the above prescribed drugs, you might want to carry evidence that it is prescription medication with you while driving so that you can show this to the police if stopped – for example, a copy of your prescription or the medicine packet.

If you are prescribed one of the drugs affected by this law, you should ask your doctor whether it will be safe for you to drive.

Read more about the offence on the website.

This information was published in April 2018.

This page is currently under review. All content was accurate when published. 

References are available on request. If you would like to reproduce any of this information, see our page on permissions and licensing.

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