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. Applies to England and Wales.

Medication

Can I drive if I'm taking prescribed medication for my mental health problem?

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. 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 gov.uk website.

If I am taking prescribed medication that affects my ability to drive, but I don’t intend to drive, do I still have to notify the DVLA?

Yes, because if you hold a licence, you could choose to drive.

 


This information was published in September 2016. We will revise it in 2018.


Mental Health A-Z

Information and advice on a huge range of mental health topics

> Read our A-Z

Training

Helping you to better understand and support people with mental health problems

> Find out more

Special offers

Check out our promotional offers on print and digital booklets, for a limited time only

> Visit our shop today