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Fitness to drive

Explains the rights that you have to drive, what information you need to tell the Driver and 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's illegal to drive or attempt to drive if your ability to do so is impaired by drugs. This includes prescribed medication for a mental health problem. You should ask the doctor who prescribed your medication whether it's likely to affect your ability to drive.

If you're taking your medicine as directed by your doctor and your driving is not impaired then you aren't 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.

How the law might affect you

It is 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:

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 UK government has published guidance for healthcare professionals. This emphasises that a person who is prescribed any of the drugs listed above is unlikely to be in breach of the law. This is because the levels specified in the law are higher than the dosage which is usually prescribed.

Medical defence

Even if the amount of the drug in your blood is more than the limit specified in the law, you can show that you aren't breaking the law. This is known as medical defence. This is as long as:

  • You're taking your medication in line with instructions given by the doctor who prescribed it or the information in the leaflet accompanying the medication, or both
  • You haven't been told that you mustn't drive while taking the medication
  • 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. For example, a copy of your prescription or the medicine packet. You can show this to the police if stopped. 

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 UK government's website.

This information was published in January 2023. We will revise it in 2026. 

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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