The impact of being caught under the influence of drugs

Drink driving

Driving under the influence of drugs is extremely dangerous. Your judgement will be impaired and you will be far slower to react in certain situations. As a result, the chances of you having an accident are much higher. Drug-driving is a serious problem. Data from 14 million car insurance quotes retrieved from the MoneySupermarket.com car insurance comparison site found that 3.4 million motorists have convictions on their licences.

Of those, some 76,000 have convictions for drink or drug-driving, making it one in 25 of the convicted population. Drugs affect your ability to drive because your concentration slips, your vision can become blurred and you're likely to feel over-confident about your driving skills which means you take risks and drive more erratically. You are also more prone to panic attacks, hallucinations and dizziness – all of which will mean you drive far more dangerously. The effects of drugs can last for hours or even days. And drug-driving isn't only restricted to illegal drugs.

If you're taking prescription drugs, these too could affect your driving ability – and the penalties are the same for legal and illegal drugs. Always read the patient information leaflet that comes with your medicine – some drugs do come with warnings stating they can cause drowsiness and you should not drive. The same can apply to over-the-counter medications. And the combination of any kind of drug or medication with alcohol can be especially potent. Police can carry out tests on the roadside to check whether or not you're under the influence of drugs. Refusing to take these tests is an offence.

What if I get caught?

If you do get caught and convicted for driving under the influence of drugs, you face a fine of up to £5,000 as well as a minimum 12-month driving ban. If you are convicted of causing a death while driving under the influence of drugs, the penalties will be even higher and you will receive a prison sentence of up to 14 years. On top of this, it will be far harder for you to get car insurance in the future and if you do manage to get car insurance, the amount you'll pay for it will be far higher.

In fact, your premium could jump by 80% or it could even double. When insurance companies weigh up how much to charge you for your car insurance, they will class you as a higher risk driver and will therefore charge you more. Because you've had a conviction in the past, they will take that as an indication you could have another one in the future. This means you're more likely to make a claim and this increases the chance that the insurer will have to pay out. As a result, you'll be charged more for your car insurance compared to someone who has no convictions.

How to keep the cost of your car insurance down

If you do have a drug-driving conviction, or any other driving conviction for that matter, it's important to get as many insurance quotes as possible in order to find the cheapest one. An easy way to compare car insurance quotes is to use the MoneySupermarket.com car insurance comparison service. MoneySupermarket.com will help you to compare the deals available through some of the UK's leading car insurance companies to help you find the best deal to suit you and your needs.

You can increase your chances of getting a cheap quote even more by reducing your risk profile in the eyes of insurance providers. One way to do this is to increase the security of your car. Parking it in a garage or off-road overnight will help, as will adding devices such as an alarm, immobiliser and tracking unit. If you tell your insurance firm that you're taking these security precautions, make sure you carry them out. If you don't and you later make a claim, your insurer may refuse to pay out. Another option is to find an insurance provider that rewards good driving habits with lower premiums.

This works by having 'black box' technology, known as telematics, installed in your car. This will record your typical driving pattern, taking into account speed, braking and the time of day you're on the road. If you drive sensibly, your premiums will be cheaper. You can find out more about telematics car insurance policies here. For further tips on keeping your car insurance costs down if you have a driving conviction, take a look at our convicted drivers insurance page.

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