Centre for Road Safety

Prescription drugs can affect your ability to drive.

Manage your medications

Driving a vehicle or riding a motorcycle safely requires good co-ordination and mental alertness. Many prescription and non-prescription medicines affect your ability to drive or ride safely.

Combining different medications may have an even greater effect on your ability to drive safely. Negative effects of prescription and over-the-counter medications include drowsiness, blurred vision, poor concentration, slower reaction times and aggressive behaviour.

The health direct website identifies some common side effects of medicines, has advice about drugs that may impact your ability to drive safely, and provides the following guidelines for drivers who are taking medication.

Tips for drivers who take medication

  • Ask your doctor or pharmacist whether it is safe to drive
  • Always read and follow the instructions on the medicine’s warning label
  • Remember that the medicine might affect your driving more when you first start taking it. Over time, you may get used to it and experience fewer side effects.
  • Don't stop taking your medicine or alter the dose without talking to your doctor first
  • Talk to your doctor about switching any medicine that affects your driving
  • Don't take more than the prescribed dose of the medicine
  • Don't drink alcohol or take other drugs while you’re taking medicines
  • Don't drive if you have missed a dose of medicine that you need to control symptoms that could affect your driving
  • Arrange another form of transport, such as public transport or a taxi.

Frequently asked questions

  1. What should I do if I’m not sure if the prescription or over the counter drug I’m going to take or taking could impair my driving?
  2. How do I know if I am impaired?
  3. What are the penalties for driving under the influence of a drug?
  4. Does Mobile Drug Testing (MDT) test for prescription or over-the-counter drugs?

1. What should I do if I’m not sure if the prescription or over the counter drug I’m going to take or taking could impair my driving?

If you aren’t sure if the medication you are taking could impair your driving, you should speak to your doctor or pharmacist, and refrain from driving until you have done so. Further information is available in the Consumer Medicines Information (CMI) pamphlet.

2. How do I know if I am impaired?

Not everyone's driving will be affected in the same way by prescription or over-the-counter drugs - if you think you might be impaired you should not drive.

The health direct website identifies some common side effects of medicines and provides advice about drugs that can impair your ability to drive safely.

3. What are the penalties for driving under the influence of a drug?

If you are found guilty of driving under the influence and it is your first offence you will receive a minimum 12-month licence disqualification, maximum fine of $3,300 and a maximum possible prison term (at the discretion of the court) of 18 months.

If it is a second or subsequent offence, you will receive a minimum two-year licence disqualification, maximum fine of $5,500 and a maximum possible prison term (at the discretion of the court) of two years.

4. Does Mobile Drug Testing (MDT) test for prescription or over-the-counter drugs?

No. Roadside MDT in NSW targets four illicit drugs - cannabis, cocaine, speed/ice and ecstasy.