Drivers are being warned to check their hay fever medication else risk life-changing punishments and criminal records for driving under the influence.
Motoring experts at Quotezone.co.uk are issuing an urgent message to drivers to make sure their hay fever medicine doesn’t mean they are driving illegally.
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The warning comes amid reports that drug driving has overtaken drink driving with 80 motorists a day being caught drug driving on Britain’s roads.
With summer fast approaching, hay fever sufferers are already beginning to feel the symptoms of pollen allergies.
But many drivers are unaware about the laws surrounding over the counter medication for their summer allergies.
A brand-new survey of UK motorists has revealed that nearly half of all drivers aren’t aware that over the counter hay fever medication could land them with a drug driving conviction.
It may seem obvious to assume that drug driving only means operating vehicles when under the influence of illegal substances.
But in fact, the law doesn’t distinguish drug driving caused by illicit drugs, over the counter or prescribed medication – any substance which affects driving ability could lead to convictions.
This means that even antihistamines taken to relieve the effects of hay fever, could result in serious, life-changing charges.
And with chief constables calling for tougher sentences for those caught drug driving, the risks are only likely to increase in the future.
The government makes it clear that it is illegal to drive with drugs (even if they are legal) in the body if it impairs driving (in England, Scotland and Wales).
Antihistamines can cause hay fever sufferers to experience drowsiness, reduced reaction times, decreased coordination and judgement as well as blurred vision.
The penalties for drug driving are severe, even if the driver has innocently taken drowsy-prone hay fever medication.
If convicted, motorists could expect to receive at least a one-year driving ban, unlimited fines, up to six months in prison and a criminal record. Additionally, for 11 years afterwards, condemned drivers will have the conviction displayed on their licences.
Drivers who cause death by careless driving from taking drowsy antihistamines could face life imprisonment as the maximum penalty.
The NHS strongly advises those who take medications prone to drowsiness – such as chlorphenamine, cinnarizine, diphenhydramine, hydroxyzine or promethazine – to avoid driving and operating machinery.
Many prescribed and over the counter hay fever medications do contain these drugs which cause drowsiness, so it’s always important to check which tablets are being taken.
Greg Wilson, Founder and CEO of Quotezone.co.uk said: “You might not think that taking your hay fever tablets could lead to a criminal conviction for drug driving, but in actual fact it easily can.
“If you suffer from allergies and take medication to relieve the symptoms, it’s imperative to check that what you are swallowing won’t cause drowsiness before you get in the car.
“Your driving abilities can be seriously impaired from innocently taking hay fever medication, such as blurred vision, slow reaction times and drowsiness behind the wheel.
“Driving in an impaired state under the influence is a very serious matter, meaning the penalties for doing so can be life-changing.
“Even if you take your daily dose of over-the-counter antihistamines before you set off on a regular drive, if your medication warns of drowsiness, you are putting yourself and other road users’ lives in jeopardy and risking serious penalties.
“We’re urging drivers who suffer from summer allergies to check the details of their medication to avoid these serious charges.”
Quotezone.co.uk is a price comparison site that helps drivers find savings on essentials and everyday household bills such as hybrid and electric car insurance plus niche items such as fleet and motor trade insurance.