Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

beginning of content

Medicines and driving

3-minute read

Some medicines have side effects that can affect your ability to drive safely. Like drink driving, it is illegal to drive under the influence of drugs, whether they are legal or illegal.

How can medicines affect driving?

To drive safely, you need to be able to see, think and react properly. Some medicines, both prescription and over-the-counter medicines, can affect these skills. If you are taking these medicines, it may not be safe to drive.

The risks are greater if you are taking more than one medicine, or if you drink alcohol while you are taking medicines.

Some common side effects of medicines that can affect your driving include:

  • feeling drowsy or tired
  • feeling dizzy, faint or nauseous
  • blurred or double vision
  • shakiness or unsteadiness
  • confusion and being less alert
  • not being able to concentrate properly
  • reacting more slowly
  • muscle weakness
  • anxiety or other changes to your mood

Some medicines can affect your driving so significantly that they are equivalent to drinking more than the legal limit for alcohol.

If you think your medicine is affecting your driving, don’t stop taking your medication. Stop driving and talk to your doctor. There might be other medications you can take.

Which medicines could affect my driving?

Some examples of medicines that might impair your driving include:

Not everyone's driving will be affected by these medicines. It depends on your tolerance of the medicine, how long you take it before you drive, what other medicines you are taking, and your medical condition.

Some medicines can make you a safer driver by treating conditions that would affect your driving, such as diabetes, epilepsy or heart disease.

What to do

  • Ask your doctor or pharmacist whether it's safe to drive.
  • Always read and follow the instructions on the medicine's warning label.
  • Remember that the medicine might affect your driving more when you first start taking it. Over time, you may get used to it and experience fewer side effects.
  • Don't stop taking your medicine or alter the dose without talking to your doctor first.
  • Talk to your doctor about switching any medicine that affects your driving.
  • Don't take more than the prescribed dose of the medicine.
  • Don't drink alcohol or take other drugs while you 're taking medicines.
  • Don't drive if you have missed a dose of medicine that you need to control symptoms that could affect your driving.
  • Arrange another form of transport, such as public transport or a taxi.

Prescription medicines and driving laws

Driving under the influence of drugs can carry heavy penalties. If you have a medical condition that could affect your driving, you will need to inform your state or territory licensing authority. You may need to provide a medical report from a doctor stating that you are fit to drive.

State and territory governments are in charge of road rules and road safety. You can find specific information in your state or territory at:

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: June 2019

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

ADF - Insights - Some medicines can have a serious effect on your ability to drive safely

Some medicines can have a serious impact on your ability to drive safely. They may even be the cause of a significant number of road deaths.

Read more on Alcohol and Drug Foundation website

Driving: Medical Fitness | HealthEngine Blog

Driving properly depends on health. People with conditions that impair driving ability like dementia and epilepsy are legally required to stop driving.

Read more on HealthEngine website


Driving In October 2016, new medical standards came into effect for drivers of both private and commercial vehicles

Read more on Diabetes Australia website


Driving If you have diabetes, you can hold a drivers licence or learner permit as long as your diabetes is well managed

Read more on Diabetes Australia website

Driving - Musculoskeletal Australia (MSK)

Does pain, fatigue, joint stiffness and muscular aches and pains make driving difficult? Find out how you can tackle these problems and how MSK can help.

Read more on Musculoskeletal Australia website

Driving | enableme - stroke recovery and support

Driving is a complex task that requires many skills. After a stroke some of these skills may be impaired. Get information and tips for returning to driving after your stroke

Read more on Stroke Foundation website

Make driving more comfortable - Musculoskeletal Australia (MSK)

Driving can be painful and exhausting if you have arthritis or a musculoskeletal condition, but there are things you can do to improve this. Find out more.

Read more on Musculoskeletal Australia website

Prescription medicines -

Prescription medicines are an important part of treating and preventing illness. However, incorrect use of these medicines can make them unsafe.

Read more on myDr website

Dementia: How Alzheimers Disease affects you and your carer | HealthEngine Blog

Living with dementia and providing dementia care can be difficult. Watch tips and advice from doctors and people with Alzheimers disease in this video.

Read more on HealthEngine website

Understanding drug interactions - NPS MedicineWise

Find out what you can do to avoid unwanted interactions between your medicines, food & drink.

Read more on NPS MedicineWise website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo