What’s Your Responsibility If You Drive While on Medication?

Last updated on February 1, 2024

It is nearing the end of the work day and you have been experiencing flu-like symptoms throughout the day. You decide to take some medication to give you a bit of relief from the symptoms before leaving for the day. You head to your car, and start making your journey back home.

Is it legal for you to drive your vehicle after taking the flu medication?

What the Law Says

Under section 67 of the Road Traffic Act, anyone who drives or attempts to drive under the influence of a drug (including medication) or an intoxicating substance to such an extent that they are incapable of having proper control of the vehicle is guilty of committing an offence.

Fist-time offenders can be fined between $2,000 and $10,000 and/or be imprisoned for up to 1 year. Repeat offenders face a fine of between $5,000 and $20,000 and up to 2 years’ jail.

The offender would also be disqualified from holding or obtaining a driving licenses for at least 2 years (or at least 5 years in the case of repeat offenders) from the date of their conviction, or if they have been imprisoned, from the date of their release from prison. This is unless the court has special reasons to order a shorter disqualification period, or not disqualify the offender at all.

Do note that under section 68 of the Road Traffic Act, even though a person is not the driver of a vehicle, if they are in charge of a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs such that they are incapable of having proper control of the vehicle, they may also be guilty of an offence. First-time offenders can be fined between $500 and $2,000, or imprisoned for up to 3 months. Repeat offenders can be fined between $1,000 and $5,000 a well as be imprisoned for up to 6 months. They will also be disqualified from holding or obtaining a driving license for a period of 12 months from the date of their release from prison.

A person is not regarded as being in charge of a vehicle if:

1) The person had not driven the vehicle between the time they became unfit to drive and the time of arrest;
2) There was no chance that the person would drive the car at the time of the arrest.

What Does This Mean For You?

When on the road, concentration, quick reflexes and good observation skills are necessary for every driver to drive safely. All these elements may be nulled or reduced under the influence of certain medication. This can cause severe repercussions, such as horrific traffic accidents and the loss of life.

After you have taken some medication, you should assess your own fitness to drive. Some medication will also indicate their possible side effects, such as drowsiness, which can impair your ability to drive. If you do experience such side effects, you should not drive and make alternative transport arrangements to get to your intended destination. If you have taken a combination of medications, this may be particularly dangerous. When in doubt, or if it was indicated that the medication oculd lead to drowsiness, you should consult your doctor or pharmacist.

There are some common medications that are known to carry greater risk to drivers. For example, at the top of the list, which represents the highest level of danger, are tranquilisers and sleeping pills. On a five point scale, with 5 representing the highest level of risk to drivers, the flu remedy and painkiller, Influbene, is rated 4. This means that drivers which have consumed this medicine are in most cases unfit to drive afterwards. At level 3, Viagra could potentially be a threat for certain drivers. With a risk level of 2, Aspirin, a painkiller/blood thinner medication, is unlikely to have a large impact on the driver.

Ultimately, it is best to always err on the side of caution when it comes to driving after taking medication, as you may not be aware of the full side effects of certain medication even if you have taken them before. The consequences of driving under the influence of medication could potentially be deadly; tt is always better to be safe than sorry.