You’re probably aware of the risks of drink-driving, not to mention the penalties associated with it, but the issues surrounding driving under the influence of drugs are less well understood.
So it might come as a surprise to you to realise that the penalties for drug-driving are exactly the same as those for drink-driving. And if you’re caught driving under the influence of any illegal substance, you can kiss your licence goodbye…
What are the penalties?
Causing death by careless driving when under the influence of drugs carries a maximum 14-year prison sentence, a minimum two-year driving ban and a requirement to pass an extended driving test. But even if you just get caught driving after taking drugs and you face:
· A minimum 12-month driving ban.
· A criminal record.
· A unlimited fine.
· A prison sentence of up to six months.
· An endorsement on your driving license for 11 years.
Cannabis is a relaxant; just a bit of this with a small amount of alcohol will magnify the effects. The most intense effects last at least 2-4 hours and include sleepiness and slow reaction times, distorted perception, reduced concentration, forgetfulness, impaired coordination and blurred vision.
Cocaine is a stimulant of the mind which can make you feel very alert for about an hour. During this time you may react inappropriately, then as the effect wears off the danger of falling asleep is high. Combining cocaine with alcohol or other drugs can produce unexpected and dangerous effects. Cocaine causes overconfidence which leads to increased risk taking, erratic behaviour, paranoia, hallucinations, distorted perception and enlarged pupils.
Ecstasy is made up of a combinations of drugs, with different tablets containing different amounts of the active ingredient MDMA. Effects depend on the strength of the drug and include an initial rush of nervousness and uncertainty, increased sensitivity to surroundings; increased perception of sound, colour and emotions; paranoia and confusion; and, potentially, brain damage.
Crystal meth (crystal methamphetamine) is a powerful stimulant that can be effective for 2-20 hours. It can cause paranoia, aggressiveness and anxiety, mood disturbances and hallucinations. Mixed with other drugs, the effects can be catastrophic.
Ketamine is an anaesthetic with painkilling and hallucinogenic properties which is used by vets as a sedative and anaesthetic. Its effects include numbness and the effect of removing you from a sense of reality, out of body experiences, hallucinations and temporary paralysis, as well as serious breathing problems, unconsciousness or heart failure.
Certain medicines can also affect your ability to drive. Check with your doctor or pharmacist.
For more Drug drive information visit www.saferessexroads.org