Don’t let the ‘pollen bomb’ risk your driving licence… how over-the-counter hayfever tablets could trigger a driving ban

With a mini-heatwave expected to sizzle Brits over the coming week, motorists have been warned to look out for the likes of hayfever putting them at risk of driving bans.

Here's all you need to know about driving with over-the-counter medications

Here’s all you need to know about driving with over-the-counter medications

It’s been a long winter, but the arrival of warmer days could end up bringing some not-so-welcome side-effects that could put your licence at risk.

With freezing weather reaching well into spring, the arrival of warmer temps could trigger extremely high levels of pollen sparking the season’s first round of hayfever attacks.

Failure to read documentation on medication for hayfever or asthma could result in a driving ban and criminal record following drug driving rules introduced in 2014.

Along with illicit drugs – such as cocaine and cannabis – having high levels of over-the-counter medications in your blood stream could get you arrested.

Additionally, taking a drug that makes you feel drowsy could also end up in a ban – regardless of levels in your blood.

Here’s all you need to know about the risks…

Hayfever pills

Millions of UK residents suffer from hayfever, but how many check their medication’s patient information leaflet? Many treatments contain active ingredients such as

chlorphenamine that can make users drowsy and impair driving.

Action: Check the label and speak to your pharmacist about non-drowsy products if it affects your driving. Don’t ignore medication altogether, though, sneezing while driving at 70mph could mean travelling 300ft with your eyes closed.

Colds and flu

Suffering from a blocked nose? Look out for active ingredients, such as triprolidine hydrochloride – they’ll make you feel better, but can also cause drowsiness.

Action: Make sure you speak to a pharmacist before you buy – especially if you’ve previously felt drowsy after using such medication.

Travel sickness treatments

If you suffer from motion sickness then it’s time to take note of your medication’s information leaflet. Topping yourself up with tablets to beat air sickness then jumping into your car could impair your driving – leaving you at risk of injury or falling foul of the law.

Action: Scour your medication’s information leaflet for advice before taking it, or ask a pharmacist for advice.

Pain relief medications

Suffering from a bad headache that won’t budge? Popping strong painkillers – such as over-the-counter products that contain opioids like codeine – can make some people drowsy and dizzy.

Action: Don’t just take that common painkiller – read the information leaflet.


You might have trouble sleeping at night, but using medication to help induce it could leave you feeling drowsy when driving early in the morning – or after a long flight. By its very nature, this type of medication is going to make you sleepy, so think carefully about how you’ll manage its use when combined with driving commitments.

Action: Plan ahead to ensure you’ll not need to drive too soon after taking sleeping pills. If you feel drowsy or groggy – don’t attempt to drive.

Hayfever alert… check the weather here

Look ahead to see when hot weather is heading in. Here’s the latest video weather forecast from the Met Office.

Daily forecast – automatically updated


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