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Illegal drugs and driving in Scotland

Scotland has a zero tolerance approach to taking illegal drugs and driving.

You're committing a crime if you take illegal drugs and drive.

When it's safe to drive

It's impossible to say for how long you'll test positive after you take illegal drugs, or when you’ll be fit to drive.

Factors that affect this include:

  • your age
  • your weight
  • how hydrated you are
  • how your body tolerates the drug

Some drugs can stay in your blood for several days after you take them.

It's your responsibility to make sure you're fit to drive. The only way to be sure is by not taking illegal drugs.

Prescription drugs and driving

The rules are different for prescription drugs and driving.

Being tested at the roadside

The police can:

  • stop you if they think you’re drug driving
  • test you at the roadside for cannabis and cocaine, using saliva from a mouth swab
  • make you do a field impairment test – this includes checking your pupils, and whether you can walk in a straight line

If you fail the roadside test

You'll be taken to the police station for a blood test.

This test checks for a variety of drugs, including:

  • cannabis
  • cocaine
  • heroin
  • ketamine
  • LSD
  • MDMA or ecstasy
  • speed or amphetamine
  • meth or methylamphetamine
  • benzoylecgonine – a chemical produced when cocaine is broken down by your body

Even if you take a small amount of illegal drugs, you can be charged with a crime.

If you’re convicted of drug driving

You'll get all of the following:

  • a driving ban of at least 1 year
  • between 3 and 11 penalty points
  • either a fine of up to £5,000, up to 6 months in prison, or both
  • a criminal record

Your driving licence will show you've been convicted of drug driving. This lasts for 11 years.

You could go to prison for life if you cause death by careless driving while under the influence of drugs.

A drug driving conviction can also affect:

  • car insurance costs
  • current or future jobs
  • travel to certain countries, such as the USA
  • volunteering – especially with children or people who have support needs

Reporting someone who is drug driving

Check how to report a crime.

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