It's unsafe to drive if you take medication that impairs your driving ability. It’s also illegal to drive when impaired, whatever the cause of the impairment (symptoms, illness, injury).

Keep yourself and others safe

Impaired driving is when your body or emotions have been affected (usually temporarily) in a way that makes it unsafe for you to drive.

Many prescribed medications (or those purchased over-the-counter) can impair your driving, as can illegal drugs and alcohol.

Safe drivers take responsibility

It's important you talk honestly with your doctor, pharmacist or nurse about your medication (and anything else you're taking) so they can help you stay safe on the road.

Watch more videos on substance impaired driving(external link)

You need to talk to them about your situation and your medications, as not every medication will impair driving.

To avoid driving while impaired you may need to:

  • avoid driving altogether when taking medication
  • consider avoiding driving at first when taking medication
  • not drink alcohol while taking medication.

Be a responsible driver when taking medication

  • Always take medication according to the instructions.
  • Don’t stop taking medication because you want to be okay to drive.
  • Check how you’re feeling after you start a new medication. Talk to a doctor, pharmacist or nurse if you’re concerned.
  • Check whether you can drink alcohol when taking your medication.
  • If your job involves driving or using machinery, tell a doctor, pharmacist or nurse and ask them what you need to tell your employer.
  • Ask a doctor, pharmacist or nurse how long the effects last. Some medications taken at night may affect you the next morning. Talk about dosage levels and when you’ll need to be careful.
  • Talk about the options with your doctor, pharmacist or nurse, such as trying a different medication or dose, or taking your medication at a different time.
  • Don’t keep driving if you feel impaired. Call someone to pick you up – or take a bus or taxi.
  • Talk to your doctor, pharmacist or nurse about all medication or drugs you’re taking – prescription, over-the-counter and illegal.

Responsible drivers plan ahead

Talk to the people you live with about how your medications may impair your driving so they can share the driving whenever you need them to.

Think about the following scenarios:

  • Have a plan for emergencies or unplanned trips. How will you get to an after hours clinic or the hospital?
  • Have a plan for any change in routine. If you take sleeping tablets at night, what will you do differently if you need to pick up a friend at the airport at 6am or collect a family member after a late night in town? Or if you take your medication with dinner, what will you do differently if you’re planning an after dinner trip to friends in the next suburb?
  • Plan your alternatives to driving. Could you share a ride with neighbours or workmates, work from home, take the bus or get a lift with friends? Could you delay your trip to later that day or to another day?