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UK drivers taking hay fever medication risk violating laws

Over 50% of UK motorists with hay fever have driven after taking medication to relieve their symptoms, putting them at risk of being charged with drug-driving. According to a survey conducted by the insurance rate comparison site,, about 58% of UK motorists who suffer from hay fever have driven after using antihistamines.

But, antihistamines can cause dizziness, sickness, and sleepiness, which can have an adverse effect on your driving and increase the possibility of having an accident. Drug-driving laws cover over-the-counter (OTC) medications as well as illegal drugs, such as cocaine and heroin, and the laws prohibit you from driving with drugs present in your body if they degrade your ability to control your vehicle.

The police can pull you over if they think you are driving while impaired by drugs and conduct a ‘field impairment assessment’, consisting of tests that can include requesting you to walk in a straight line. If the police think you are not capable of driving due to the influence of drugs, including OTC medications, they can arrest you on a drug-driving charge. If convicted, you could be subject to a fine and a ban on driving for at least one year.

Of some concern, the survey found that about 10% of motorists had noticed the adverse effects of taking hay fever medication while driving, including drowsiness, slightly blurry vision, and slower reaction time. The survey also showed that 86% of motorists did not realise that they would be subject to the same penalties for taking hay fever medication as for using illegal drugs.

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