A guide to navigating the rules of driving after taking medication and remedies

It’s the Great British Summertime, ahhhhhhhh – breath in those lovely smells of fresh cut grass…


Of course, that is unless you suffer from the dreaded hayfever. Each and every year, summer brings with it a wave of allergies and bouts of uncontrollable sneezing which can bring even the stronger amongst us to our knees.

No, that wasn’t over-dramatic. We’ve seen it happen.


If you happen to be one of these unfortunate suffers, who spend the whole summer with an unlimited supply of nasal sprays, eye drops or other remedies to-hand, or in your glove compartment to fight away these infuriating allergies, then we have some guidance to help you understand how your medicine could affect you behind the wheel.

While these remedies and over-the-counter medicines may seem like a God-send, they could be putting you at risk if you choose to do drive.


Why would medication affect me behind the wheel?

Medicines are designed so you can keep on living your best life – even if you suffer horribly from allergies and conditions. These are either made to be fairly mild, for those symptoms which are easy to treat, or a little stronger to help combat the hayfever blues.

Taking stronger medicines may be helpful for fighting off uncontrollable sneezing, but it could come with some side-effects which are less than desirable for driving – drowsiness, dizziness and nausea to name a few.

If you are unsure about whether you can operate a vehicle after taking medicine, consult your doctor or pharmacist, to ensure that you remain safe. Failing that, just look it up on your phone for quick peace of mind.

Did you know that driving under the influence of medicine could land you in deep water?


What are the penalties for driving under the influence of medicine?

Let’s be clear – not all medicines have the same effects, taking some Ibuprofen to ease a killer headache, then jumping in the car won’t see you serving a sentence in jail.

Well, unless you’re already wanted by the Police – that’s a completely different matter altogether.

But, on a serious note, in the UK it is illegal to either attempt to drive, or drive if you are impaired by drugs (including those given over-the-counter).

Over-the-counter medication, as we have seen, can cause have a number of side-effects, like dizziness and fatigue to name just two; these may seem harmless, but when you combine that with high speeds, it may become deadly. With that in mind, the penalties are rather significant:

  • a minimum 1-year driving ban
  • an unlimited fine
  • up to 6 months in prison
  • a criminal record

This could also invalidate your insurance policy and make it slightly harder to purchase insurance in the future.


How can you fight against hayfever symptoms?

When it comes to remedies for hayfever, there seem to be a million-and-one old-wives tales which have miraculous capabilities – for instance, eating locally sourced honey can help to combat your symptoms.

This may work – I mean, there’s no harm in giving it a shot, but there are some slightly more ‘tried and tested’ methods to help mitigate your suffering.

According to the NHS, the following can help to ease your pain:

  • put Vaseline around your nostrils to trap pollen
  • wear wraparound sunglasses to stop pollen getting into your eyes
  • shower and change your clothes after you have been outside to wash pollen off
  • stay indoors whenever possible
  • keep windows and doors shut as much as possible
  • vacuum regularly and dust with a damp cloth
  • buy a pollen filter for the air vents in your car and a vacuum cleaner with a special HEPA filter


If you are taking hayfever medicine, or any over-the-counter remedies, please take the safe route and contact a healthcare professional to give you the green light.