Dubai motorists warned not to drive after taking certain prescription medicines

Cases will be treated the same way as drink-driving, senior prosecutor says

Doctors say some prescribed medications cause drowsiness and motorists should not drive after taking them. Leslie Pableo / The National
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Motorists in Dubai have been warned not to drive after taking certain prescription and over-the-counter medications that may affect their judgment.

It is an offence to drive with certain drugs above specified levels in the body in the same way as drink-driving, the emirate's chief traffic prosecutor Salah Bu Farousha told The National.

He said it is a motorist's responsibility to check with their doctor if it is safe to drive.

“Some prescribed medications cause drowsiness and doctors advise not to drive while consuming such drugs. But some drivers still do so and cause accidents,” Mr Bu Farousha said.

Motorists should always stick to the dosage and read warnings on medicines before driving.”

What are the legal implications?

Mr Bu Farousha said driving after taking medicines that may cause drowsiness can endanger the lives of the motorist and other road users. The effect of these medicines may differ from one person to another, depending on age, metabolism and other factors.

Driving should strictly be avoided after taking a high dose of any such medicine.

Mr Bu Farousha said if a person's driving is impaired, they are breaking the law and will face legal action if it leads to an accident.

Cases fall under Article No 49 of the Federal Traffic Law. A motorist driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs — whether prescribed or over the counter — can be either jailed or fined Dh20,000 and their vehicle impounded for 60 days. They will also receive 23 black points on their driving licence.

Last year in the emirate, 126 cases of driving under the influence of medicinal drugs and 883 cases of driving under the influence of alcohol were recorded.

“We usually ask the traffic court to suspend the driver’s licence for one year,” Mr Bu Farousha said.

Which medications are included?

Dr Basel Al Debas, a surgeon at Oriana Specialty Hospital in Sharjah, said: “Some medicines cause drowsiness, blurred vision, dizziness, nausea and inability to focus or pay attention.

“Most medications won’t affect your ability to drive, but some prescription and non-prescription medicines can have side effects and cause reactions that may make it unsafe to drive.

“People who take sleeping pills and allergy medicines should talk to their doctor to take a small dose or change the time of taking their medicines if they have no option but to drive. They should consult their doctors and read the warnings on medication packaging.”

Several cold and allergy medicines, sleep aids, antidepressants, opioids, painkillers and other over the counter medications can have side effects including drowsiness, blurred vision and nausea.

Some of the medicines are:

  • Diazepam, Clonazepam and Lorazepam used as muscle relaxants
  • Sleeping tablets such as Oxazepam and Temazepam
  • Nabiximols used for multiple sclerosis
  • Amphetamines given to people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
  • Painkillers such as Oramorph, Zomorph and Diamorphine

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Updated: January 12, 2023, 3:45 AM