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Drugs and Driving

Alcohol is a major cause of motor car accidents and the association between random breath testing and drink driving penalties is well established. However, what is not so widely known is the connection between the use of prescribed medications and illegal drugs and the effects on driving ability.

Drugs which have a very dangerous effect on driving ability include the depressants which slow down your ability to co-ordinate the skills needed for safe driving. these include alcohol, sleeping pills, marijuana, tranquillisers, barbiturates, narcotics including heroin, pain killers containing codeine, anti-allergy medications and some medicines prescribed by your doctor for blood pressure, nausea, muscle and joint inflammation and fungal infections. Stimulant drugs make you anxious and uncoordinated and include amphetamines, cocaine, some diet pills and some cold and flu medicines.

Illegal drugs should not be used whilst driving and under no circumstances should you drive whilst taking hallucinogens which include LSD, ecstasy and psilocybim found in “magic mushrooms”.

Your weight, sex, emotional state and tolerance to a drug can vary the effects a particular drug will have on your ability to drive.

Since November 1987 in New South Wales, police have the power to stop you and ask you to take a blood and urine test as well as the breath analyser test if you are involved in an accident or they suspect your driving is could be affected by drugs.

You should not drive if your blood alcohol level is .05 or over or in the case of “P” and “L” plate drivers if it is over .02. Also you should not drive if your driving is affected by any other drugs including prescribed medications. In the case of prescribed medications your doctor can inform you of the ability of any medication you are taking and its affect on your driving.

Sometimes a combination of drugs will exert a combined effect and will cause problems which on their single dosage would not have produced. Alcohol and prescribed medications should not be taken together unless your doctor says it is safe to do so.

Depending upon your weight, sex and the time passed since drinking, there are certain amounts of alcohol which can be consumed and not affect your ability to drive. This information is contained in an informative pamphlet on drugs and driving which is issued by the New South Wales Centre for Education and Information on drugs and Alcohol. Copies can be obtained by ringing (02) 818 5222.

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