Did you know over the counter painkillers such as  Ibuprofen & Codeine tablets could render you unfit to drive?

The introduction of new drug related driving laws in March 2015 resulted in huge surges in the amount of drug related driving arrests – and some motorists found themselves unknowingly over the limit as a result of the prescription medicine that they were on at the time.

Drug driving comes with some severe punishments, including a minimum one-year driving ban, an unlimited fine, up to six months in prison and a criminal record.

Drug driving offences are not just limited to illegal drugs. Many routine or over the counter drugs used to treat pain such as Ibruprofen & Codeine could see motorists banned – as it is classed as an offence to drive if the medicine affects your ability to do so.

Codeine can be used for the short term treatment of acute moderate pain such as, rheumatic and muscular pain, backache, migraine, period pain, dental pain and neuralgia that is not relieved by aspirin or paracetamol.

Codeine is transformed to morphine in the liver by an enzyme. Morphine is the substance that produces pain relief. Some people have a variation of this enzyme and this can affect people in different ways. In some people, morphine is not produced or produced in very small quantities, and it will not provide enough pain relief. Other people are more likely to get serious side effects because a very high amount of morphine is produced.

This medicine can affect your ability to drive or use machines as it may make you feel sleepy or dizzy, affect concentration, coordination, vision and reaction times.

You must not drive or use machines whilst taking this medicine until you are sure you are not affected. It is an offence to drive if this medicine affects your ability to drive, which is punishable by imprisonment and disqualification from driving.

However, you would not be committing an offence if the medicine has been prescribed to treat a medical or dental problem and you have taken it according to the instructions given by the prescriber/in the information provided with the medicine and it was not affecting your ability to drive safely.

Codeine can also cause addiction if you take it continuously for more than three days. This can give you withdrawal symptoms from the medicine when you stop taking it. As with all medicines you should always read the information leaflet because it contains important information, including the side effects of taking them.

Here at Farleys, we have a number of experienced criminal law solicitors who can provide legal advice on driving offences. To get in touch with them please call 0845 287 0939 or submit your enquiry online. For emergency representation you can call our 24 hour line on 01254 606050.