Driving on THIS hay fever medication can land you a ban and fines: How the law affects you


Hay fever is a common pollen allergy which presents itself typically during the months or March to September and is at its worst in the summer.

Last week the Met Office suggested that hay fever season could come earlier this year and sufferers could already be experiencing symptoms of it.

Symptoms of hay fever commonly include sneezing, runny or blocked nose, itchy eyes, mouth, and throat.

The allergy can cause a number of problems for drivers as the symptoms can be distracting or impair vision and a sneezing fit at high speeds could also be an issue.

Many drivers will turn to hay fever medication such as antihistamines to combat and suppress some of the symptoms of the condition.

It is estimated that one in five Brits could suffer from hay fever and 95 per cent of sufferers are allergic to grass pollen.

However, certain types of antihistamines could cause drowsiness and impair the driver’s vision. Motorists reactions could be slowed down significantly or they could feel tired and even fall asleep behind the wheel.

According to information on NHS.co.uk, antihistamine tablets contains chlorphenamine and diphenhydramine are more likely to cause drowsiness.

Information on the gov.uk website suggests that certain over-the-counter prescription medication could have the same effects as drugs as cocaine.

Safer antihistamines are said to be those that contain loratadine or cetirizine and they are less likely to cause drowsiness and are more suitable for motorists.

If you’re convicted of drug driving you’ll get a minimum one year driving ban, an unlimited fine, up to 6 months in prison and a criminal record.

Other problems that could occur if you are caught drug driving including typically higher car insurance premiums in future, if you drive for work, your employer will see your conviction on your licence and you may have trouble travelling to countries like the USA.

Talk to your doctor about whether you should drive if you’ve been prescribed any of the following drugs:

  • amphetamine, eg dexamphetamine or selegiline
  • clonazepam
  • diazepam
  • flunitrazepam
  • lorazepam
  • methadone
  • morphine or opiate and opioid-based drugs, eg codeine, tramadol or fentanyl
  • oxazepam
  • temazepam

You can drive after taking these drugs if:

  • you’ve been prescribed them and followed advice on how to take them by a healthcare professional
  • they aren’t causing you to be 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.

Tips for hay fever sufferers to follow before hitting the road:

  • Check the pollen count for the day before you set out.
  • If you are sneezing a lot, pull over until it’s passed.
  • Check the literature that comes with the drugs before getting behind the wheel – look out for side-effects including drowsiness, blurred vision, nausea etc.
  • If you are going to drive, take the non-drowsy versions of any hay fever remedies.
  • If you have taken medication, consider alternative transport and leave the car at home that day.
  • Remember that over the counter drugs are covered by the same laws as illegal drugs when it comes to driving. Don’t take the risk.


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