Illegal drugs and driving in Scotland

Last updated: 16 January 2020

The law on illegal drugs and driving in Scotland

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

You'll commit a crime if you take illegal drugs and drive.

Read more about the law on drug driving.

Roadside drugs test

The police can stop you if they think you're drug driving. They can:

  • test you at the roadside for cannabis and cocaine using saliva from a mouth swab
  • make you do a field impairment test to check you're fit to drive – including checking your pupils and asking you to walk in a straight line

If you fail either test they will take you to the station to test your blood for drugs including:

  • cannabis (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol)
  • cocaine and benzoylecgonine (a chemical produced when cocaine is broken down by your body)
  • heroin (6-monoacetylmorphine)
  • ketamine
  • LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide)
  • MDMA or ecstasy (methylenedioxymethamphetamine)
  • meth (methylamphetamine)
  • speed (amphetamine)

The police can test for other drugs not on this list.

You'll commit a crime if you take even a small amount of illegal drugs.

Find out about being charged with a crime.

Knowing when it's safe to drive

It's impossible to say for how long you'll test positive after you take illegal drugs. Or how long it will be until you're fit to drive.

Many factors affect this including:

  • age
  • 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 you're fit to drive is to not take illegal drugs.

Do not risk it. You could be convicted of drug driving if you're caught.

Prescription drugs and driving

There are different rules about prescription drugs and driving.

Read more about prescription drugs and driving.

What happens if you're convicted of drug driving

If you're convicted of drug driving you'll get:

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

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

You could go to prison for up to 14 years if you cause death by dangerous driving while unfit through drugs.

Other problems you could face

A drug driving conviction can also affect:

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

Report drug driving

Find out how to report a crime in Scotland.