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Millions of Brit motorists could be risking an unlimited fine and driving ban for taking hay fever medication

MILLIONS of British motorists could be risking a massive fine and a driving ban for getting behind the wheel after taking hay fever medication.

As the hay fever season has hit the UK three weeks early ahead of the Easter weekend, more drivers could chance a drug-driving charge to try to ward off symptoms.

At least half of drivers suffering from hay fever symptoms have driven after taking medication
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As many as 58 per cent of hay fever suffering motorists admitted to driving after taking antihistamines, according to a study conducted by Confused.com last year.

But hay fever medication can cause sleepiness, sickness and dizziness, which can affect your driving and make you more likely to have an accident.

And using the medications could see millions of drivers hit with a minimum one year driving ban and an unlimited fine. 

Over-the-counter medication is covered under the same law as illicit substances like cocaine and cannabis that prohibits driving with drugs in your body if they impair your ability on the road.

Advice for avoiding a hay fever ban

  • Ask your doctor or pharmacist if a medicine could affect your ability to drive. Be particularly careful if you are using a medicine for the first time
  • If you do experience potentially dangerous side effects from a medicine, don’t drive. Organise a taxi or a lift from a friend if you need to travel
  • If you find a particular medicine is making you sleepy, consider asking if there is a non-sedating alternative available
  • It’s not just prescription medicines that can cause drowsiness and other potentially dangerous side-effects. So, check with your pharmacist if you plan to use an over-the-counter drug
  • If you’re unsure about the warning given on the medicine you’re using, ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any risks – before you drive anywhere

The police can stop you and make you do a “field impairment assessment” if they think you’re on drugs – a series of tests like asking you to walk in a straight line.

If cops think you’re unfit to drive because of taking drugs you’ll be arrested and will have to take a blood or urine test at a police station.

In serious cases, if convicted of drug-driving you could be handed a prison term, while the criminal offence will stay on your driving licence for 11 years.

Worryingly, the study revealed that at least 10 per cent of motorists had actually noticed the affects of medication while driving, with it making them drowsy, their reactions slower or their vision slightly blurry.

The study also found that a whopping 86 per cent of drivers were unaware hay fever medication could see you slapped with the same penalty as taking illegal drugs, while around a fifth felt motorists taking prescription tablets shouldn’t be punished so severely.


THE HIGH-WAY CODE What is the UK drug-driving limit and which prescription drugs can result in you being banned?


As many as 37 motorists each day were caught under the influence of drugs during a month-long police crackdown last year.

Just under 2,000 drivers were stopped by police for driving erratically or being involved in an accident, with 57 per cent testing positive for a banned substance – including charges for the use of illegal, prescription and over-the-counter drugs.

Amanda Stretton, motoring editor at Confused.com, said: “With summer comes hay fever, which means motorists are going to be desperately relying on their antihistamines to keep their symptoms at bay.

“But what they may not know is that some can cause drowsiness and seriously affect their ability to drive. If in doubt, they should speak to their doctor or pharmacist for clarity.

“The consequences of drug driving can be very serious. Offenders are putting their lives and the lives of other road users at risk, and they could seriously damage their driving history if served with a criminal record, and see their car insurance premiums shoot up as a result.”


Neil Worth, GEM road safety officer, said: “Some medicines, including those used to treat hay fever, can have an effect on your ability to drive safely.

“They can affect your vision, your hearing, your reaction time, your perception of risk and your ability to carry out a variety of tasks.

“Your vision may be blurred, and you may also find it hard to focus or pay attention. Symptoms like this make you much more likely to be involved in a collision.”

We previously revealed a simple trick that could protect you from hay fever symptoms while you drive.

Source: The Sun Motors – Millions of Brit motorists could be risking an unlimited fine and driving ban for taking hay fever medication

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