Prescription Medicine, Drugs and Driving

This can often be a confusing issue. Whether we like it or not, at some point we’re going to end up taking some form of medication. Perhaps it’s just something from the shelf at your local pharmacy, known as Over The Counter (OTC) to treat the symptoms of the Common Cold, or perhaps it’s something your doctor prescribed to you for either a short-term illness or for something chronic and long-term.

Regardless of what it’s for, have you ever stopped to think if you should be driving while taking it? The wording of the rules may be different from country to country, but under the Criminal Code of Canada, a person cannot operate, be in care of or control a vehicle while impaired by alcohol or a drug.

There is no wiggle room here.

If your doctor prescribed you a medication that in any way affects your physical abilities or reflexes or affects your cognitive abilities, you are not legally able to drive. Now in most cases, your prescription medication isn’t going to affect you in such a way but some do, especially pain killers. As a rule, ask your doctor for advice.

This doesn’t just hold true for prescription medications but also for over the counter medicines like those used for treating Cold symptoms (ie. Nyquil or Benadryl) that help you sleep. Yes, drowsy driving can be just as dangerous as drunk driving. Ask your pharmacist and read the warning labels and see how the medication affects you before you attempt to drive.


The same goes for Cannabis. Just because it’s legal now in many American States and nationally in Canada, it doesn’t mean you can smoke, consume, ingest, or in any way absorb it, and then operate a vehicle. It doesn’t matter how legal it is or even if you have a prescription for it.

Yes, it’s true that CBD doesn’t have the same effect as THC, but it still makes changes to the body. Each person needs to figure out how it affects them personally, but it’s important to realize that if police perform a drug test and they detect cannabis in your system, you’re in for some serious legal trouble.

Remember that driving is a privilege. Just because it’s legal to take certain drugs or medicines, it does not give you the right to drive if it impairs you physically or mentally. It’s not just a driving offence…it’s a criminal one, and having a criminal record can follow you for life and also prohibit you from visiting many countries.

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