Published: 20 March 2023

Safety Information

Can I drive while taking medicines?

Some medicines can affect your ability to drive. You must check with your healthcare professional if it is safe to drive while taking a medicine.

It is against the law to drive while impaired

It is unsafe to drive if you are affected (impaired) by a medicine. It is also against the law to drive while impaired. A number of medicines can impair driving ability. This includes over-the-counter and pharmacist-only medicines, as well as prescription medicines.

Medicines more likely to affect driving include some pain relievers, sleeping aids, antidepressants, medicines used in epilepsy, allergy, eye conditions, diet pills, cold and flu medicines, and some heart medicines.

Not everyone is affected. Even if you are affected at first, your body may adapt over a few days. It is important to discuss if your medicine may impair driving with a health professional before starting a medicine, or if you think you might be affected by the medicine.

How do medicines cause impairment?

Medicines can impair driving by causing:

  • dizziness
  • drowsiness
  • nausea
  • blurred vision
  • slowed reactions
  • inability to focus
  • problems staying awake/sleepiness
  • confusion
  • feeling overconfident
  • aggression.

Importantly, you may not always be aware that you are impaired. The impairment may continue the day after taking the medicine, especially for medicines that have been prescribed to help you sleep.

Some medicines may only affect you at the start of treatment or if the dose is changed. Other medicines may affect you as long as you are taking them, so you will need to try an alternative medicine if you need to drive.

Be informed

Check your doctor, nurse or pharmacist if it is OK to drive after taking your medicine. Check the medicine package to see if there is a warning about driving.

Some useful websites for learning about medicines and driving are listed here: New legislation about medicines that can impair driving.

Other things to remember

  • Ask your doctor (or the person who prescribed your medicine) or pharmacist for advice about driving when you first start treatment, and if you have questions during the treatment.
  • Do not drive until you know how your medicine affects you. Do not drive if your medicine impairs your ability to drive.
  • If you are impaired, you should also avoid using machinery, cycling, skateboarding, climbing or any other activity that is dangerous to you or others if you cannot concentrate.
  • Take your medicine as prescribed. Do not stop taking your medicine or alter the dose without talking to your doctor or pharmacist first.
  • Do not use anyone else's medicine.
  • You are likely to be impaired if you take more medicine than has been prescribed or use drugs and medicines in combination with each other or with alcohol.
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