Many illegal drugs, including heroin, cannabis, cocaine, ecstasy and amphetamines, impair the ability to drive safely.
Heroin and cannabis are both depressants, which means they slow down the brain and other parts of the nervous system. It is dangerous to drive after using these drugs because they can:
- Make it harder to concentrate
- Reduce a person’s ability to make quick and correct decisions
- Reduce a person’s ability to respond appropriately to unexpected events, or the actions of other road users.
Cocaine, ecstasy and amphetamines (speed) are stimulants, which means they speed up the activity of the brain and other parts of the central nervous system. It is dangerous to drive after using these drugs because they can:
- Give the person a false sense of alertness and confidence, while actually reducing their judgement
- Increase risk taking, and cause the person to underestimate the consequences of risk
- Increase anxiety and aggression – particularly where cocaine and amphetamines are taken.
All drugs affect different people in different ways, depending on how much is used, how strong the drug is, a person’s physical and psychological state and if the person is used to such drugs. It is even more dangerous to drive after using illegal drugs because the variations in quality and strength make the effects
very difficult to predict.
Mixing drugs can reduce your driving ability even further:
- If you are prescribed a medicine, ask your doctor or pharmacist how using alcohol (and/or other drugs) with your medicine is likely to affect your driving
- DO NOT DRIVE if you have taken a combination of drugs, including alcohol.
In the Northern Territory, it is against the law to drive a car or ride a motorcycle under the influence of drugs. The police will look at the way you are driving, your behaviour and your appearance, and will charge you if they think that you are so affected by alcohol that you cannot control the vehicle properly.
Your licence could automatically be cancelled and you could also be fined or imprisoned for this offence.