Cough medicine abuse is not, in itself, a violation of the law (assuming that the cough medicine is the normal type generally available for sale over the counter). It may however lead to the commission of criminal offences if it loosens inhibitions and results in the commission of criminal offences that would not otherwise have been committed.
The car does not belong to Dragon and he does not have the owner’s permission to drive it. Dragon has committed the offence of “taking a conveyance without authority“ contrary to Section 14 of the Theft Ordinance (Chapter 210). The offence is commonly known as “Taking and Driving Away” (“TDA”) and is sometimes referred to as “Joy Riding”.
Dragon’s actions satisfy all the requirements of the offence in that he has taken the motor car for his own use without the consent of the owner and without any lawful authority.
The same goes for his friends. They are all part of a joint enterprise of taking and driving away.
As Dragon is under 18 years of age he is not old enough to have a driving licence. A driving licence is required before a motor vehicle can lawfully be driven on a road. As Dragon does not have a driving licence, he commits the offence of “driving without a licence” contrary to Section 42 of the Road Traffic Ordinance (Chapter 374).
As Dragon does not have a driving licence (and as the car has been taken without consent), Dragon uses the car on a public road when not covered by insurance against third party risks contrary to Section 4 of the Motor Vehicles Insurance (Third Party Risks) Ordinance (Chapter 272).
As Dragon eventually stopped the car, he did not have the intention to permanently deprive the owner of the car. He is not therefore guilty of theft but guilty of taking and driving away.
Section 39 of the Road Traffic Ordinance (Chapter 374) makes it an offence to be in charge of a motor vehicle on a public road when under the influence of drink or drugs to such extent as to be incapable of having proper control of the vehicle.
The question will be whether he is intoxicated to such an extent that he is incapable of having proper control of the vehicle. That will be a question of fact. Cough medicine is a drug for the purposes of Section 39 of the Road Traffic Ordinance (Chapter 374). Its overuse can lead to a state of intoxication just as can the consumption of alcohol.
If Dragon was involved in an accident, charges of dangerous driving or careless driving contrary to Section 37 and 38 of the Road Traffic Ordinance (Chapter 374) could be brought.
If his passengers were seriously injured as a result of Dragon’s dangerous driving a charge of “causing grievous bodily harm by dangerous driving” contrary to Section 36A of the Road Traffic Ordinance (Chapter 374) could be brought. If death occurred a charge of “causing death by dangerous driving” contrary to Section 36 of the Road Traffic Ordinance (Chapter 374) could be brought. The prosecution would need to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Dragon drove the car in a manner that was dangerous, which is a question of fact, and that the injury or death was caused by (resulted from) that dangerous driving.
For differences between dangerous driving and careless driving, please click here.