Parkinson's drugs and excessive sleepiness
Some Parkinson’s drugs can make you very sleepy. Sometimes this happens suddenly and without warning. This may be more likely in people with advanced Parkinson’s who are taking multiple medications or are increasing their medication, particularly dopamine agonists.
Although this is concerning, the DVLA has stated that the risk of falling asleep suddenly is low and that taking Parkinson’s drugs should not automatically mean you have to stop driving. However, if you experience any sudden or excessive daytime sleepiness, you should not drive and tell your GP, specialist, or Parkinson’s nurse.
Drugs and driving: the law
It is illegal in England and Wales to drive if you are unfit to do so because you are taking legal drugs. Legal drugs are prescription or over-the-counter medicines. While the drugs listed under this law are not Parkinson’s-specific drugs you may be prescribed them to treat symptoms associated with your condition, such as anxiety, or for other health problems.
Talk to your GP about driving if you’ve been prescribed any of the following drugs:
- clonazepam (a drug commonly prescribed for people who have restless legs syndrome)
- morphine or opiate and opioid-based drugs
You can drive after taking these drugs if:
- you have been prescribed them and advised how to take them by a healthcare professional
- they aren’t making you unfit to drive, even if you’re above the specified limits
You could be prosecuted if you drive with certain levels of these drugs in your body and you haven’t been prescribed them.
The law doesn’t cover Northern Ireland and Scotland but you could still be arrested if you’re unfit to drive. Talk to your GP, specialist or Parkinson’s nurse if you have any concerns.
You may find it useful to carry a copy of your prescription with you when you’re driving, just in case you are stopped for any reason or are involved in a traffic incident.
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Last updated October 2019. We review all our information within 3 years. If you'd like to find out more about how we put our information together, including references and the sources of evidence we use, please contact us at [email protected]