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Rules and regulations

What is the penalty for drug driving?

Driving under the influence of drugs is an offence just like driving under the influence of alcohol: you're impaired, so you're not fit to be in charge of a potentially dangerous vehicle.

While police have been able to breathalyse for alcohol for years, in the case of suspected drug driving, they had to rely on a Field Impairment Test (a series of exercises to assess if you are fit to drive) until very recently.

From March 2015, police are now able to use roadside saliva tests to check if drivers are over the official drug drive limits on cannabis and cocaine. Other drugs will be identified with a blood test against the legal limits.

The particular penalty for a drug driving offence is decided by the court but there are GOV.UK guidelines for various offences.

The current penalties

1. If you're convicted of drug driving

  • Minimum 1 year driving ban
  • Up to £5,000 fine
  • A criminal record

2. If you cause death by dangerous driving

  • Up to 14 years’ imprisonment
  • An unlimited fine
  • A ban from driving for at least 2 years

With a drug driving record, you could also face:

  • A significant increase in your car insurance costs
  • Problems getting or keeping a job that involves driving
  • Difficulties with travel to other countries, including the USA
Find out more about drug driving penalties on GOV.UK.


Honor joined ingenie in 2014 and is in charge of words on the Young Driver's Guide and blog. Her first car is a Peugeot 206 cabriolet, which is a very sensible choice for the British climate. Follow her on .