How having a cold may cost you your job

Some cold and ‘flu treatments, painkillers and other drugs can cause drowsiness, reducing a driver’s ability to concentrate on the driving task. Driving while affected by drugs of this kind (even those prescribed by a doctor) is not only very hazardous but also likely to be a criminal offence for which the penalties will be severe.

A conviction for drug driving carries a minimum one-year driving ban, an unlimited fine and up to six months in prison. You’ll have a criminal record that means you may have trouble getting a job or travelling overseas. Even once you’ve got your licence back it will be endorsed for 11 years.

Taking drugs for a cold is not worth the risk…

Remember any form of medication can adversely affect your driving ability, even those you buy over the counter, os it’s vital that you follow the advice you’re given or that is contained within the packaging. If you get it wrong then the consequences could be catastrophic so if you’re in any doubt don’t drive.

These are two separate offences and you could potentially commit one or the other or both. All sound a bit technical? Well, let’s try to clear it up for you.

Impairment means that there is something adversely affecting your ability to drive. This could be alcohol, drugs, medicine or a combination of all of them – even over the counter cold remedies may impair your ability to drive properly.

The prescribed limit

If you are taking any of the medicinal drugs that are specified, or anything containing them, then you need to speak to your doctor about whether you should be driving or not.

Like alcohol, there are prescribed legal limits for the amount of illegal/medicinal drugs allowed in a person’s blood. If a police officer suspects that you are driving, attempting to drive or are in control of a vehicle and that you may have taken drugs, irrespective whether you appear impaired or not, they can require you to undertake a drug test at the roadside.

This takes the form of a mouth swab that will detect the presence of cannabis and cocaine. If this sample is positive then you’ll be arrested, taken to a police station where a blood sample will be taken and sent for analysis for 17 drugs. If any of the drugs are found and are above the limit then you may be charged with driving over the prescribed limit – even if your driving is unaffected by the drugs.

Control for fleet managers

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Limits for illegal drug dosage

  • Benzoylecgonine 50 micrograms
  • Cocaine 10 micrograms
  • Cannabis (Delta-9-THC) 2 micrograms
  • Ketamine 20 micrograms
  • Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) 1 microgram
  • Methylamphetamine 10 micrograms
  • MDMA (Ecstasy) 10 micrograms
  • Heroin 5 micrograms/litres

Limits for medicinal dosage

  • Amphetamine 250 micrograms
  • Clonazepam 50 micrograms
  • Diazepam 550 micrograms
  • Flunitrazepam 300 micrograms
  • Lorazepam 100 micrograms
  • Methadone 500 micrograms
  • Morphine 80 micrograms
  • Oxazepam 300 micrograms
  • Temazepam 1,000 micrograms
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