Driving on drugs is never worth the risk

It's illegal in Scotland, and immediate roadside testing can be carried out at any time.

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  • 12-month driving ban

  • Points on your licence

  • Up to six months in prison

  • A large fine

Drugs and driving don’t mix

Drugs can slow down your responses, making it more likely you’ll have a collision on the road. This can lead to severe injuries and even death.

The effects of drug driving can seriously ruin lives. Not just yours, but other road users and their families too.

What you need to know

  • It’s a criminal offence to take drugs and drive in Scotland
  • The penalties are tough, even for prescription drugs
  • You could lose your car and even your job
  • Drugs do differ – but they all affect awareness, judgement and reaction times
  • A Drug Wipe test can be carried out at the side of the road

The law in Scotland

It’s illegal to take drugs and drive in Scotland – and the punishments are severe

The law also includes prescription and over-the-counter drugs that you’re not meant to use whilst driving

The penalties for driving while on these drugs are exactly the same as having illegal substances in your system

Tough penalties

If you’re caught and convicted of drug driving, here’s what you can expect to face as a minimum:

  • 12-month driving ban

  • 3 to 11 points on your licence

  • Up to 6 months in prison

  • A large fine

  • An offence that stays on your licence for 11 years

  • Causing death carries a maximum 14 year jail sentence

The effects can last a lifetime

A drug-driving conviction can change your life for years to come.

You could:

  • Lose your job, or business, if you can’t drive
  • Struggle to get another job because of your criminal conviction
  • See a huge increase in your vehicle insurance
  • Have difficulty travelling abroad – especially to the USA

How you can be caught

It’s easier than you think to get caught drug driving.

You could be:

  • Stopped by the police for a routine check
  • Stopped for another traffic offence – like not wearing a seatbelt
  • Involved in a crash that’s not your fault
  • Reported by someone who suspects you’ve been taking drugs

What happens when you get stopped?


If an officer thinks you’re under the influence of drugs, you’ll be asked if you’ve taken anything recently


You’ll then be asked to carry out a Drug Wipe test


You might also have to do a field impairment test


If you prove positive, or the impairment test makes drugs in your system seem likely, you’ll be arrested and taken to a police station


At the station, you’ll have to give either a blood or urine sample, which will be sent for testing


The result of the test will be used to make a decision about any prosecution

How drugs can affect your driving

  • Depending on what’s been taken, drugs have different effects on driving ability
  • They all impair awareness, judgement and reaction times
  • For more information on the effects of specific drugs, read the content on Drug Driving | Release and Changes to drug driving law – GOV.UK
  • Drugs can still be detected in your system quite a few days after they’ve been taken
  • Prescription drugs can also make you drowsy and affect vision, coordination and concentration

Prescription and over-the-counter drugs

It’s illegal to drive using any medicines that affect your driving abilities. Here are a few things to keep in mind.

  • It’s an offence to drive if you’re over the stated limits of certain drugs – whether they’re prescribed or over-the-counter
  • Some medicines, like hay fever remedies, can cause drowsiness and impairment
  • The penalties for driving on prescribed drugs can be just as severe as illegal ones
  • Always check the information leaflet, or ask the pharmacist for any driving restrictions

There are no issues if:

  • You’ve been prescribed the drug
  • It’s taken as prescribed
  • It doesn’t affect your driving

Reporting a drug driver can stop accidents

If you think someone’s driving after taking drugs, you can let the Police know. This could stop someone being seriously injured, or even killed.
Just call the Police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111. Then you’ll have to give:

  • The car registration number
  • A description of the vehicle and driver
  • The location, i.e. where the driver is at that moment, or is potentially going
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