Drivers warned taking cold medicine could risk a heavy fine this winter

With winter now in full swing it seems cold and flu season has also well and truly arrived.

But many drivers may end up breaking the law as they try and tackle that seasonal snuffle. This is especially the case if they take cold and flu medication to fight off the bugs.

Motoring experts at issued a warning to drivers to ensure they aren’t taking medication which could impair their ability to drive, reports the Daily Star. This is because some medicines could have side effects that hamper your ability to drive.

In the UK it is illegal to have certain levels of drugs in your blood when you get behind the wheel. That is even the case if you think it is not impacting on your driving. 

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Those found driving dangerously could receive an unlimited fine, a one-year driving ban, six months in prison and a criminal record. Additionally, for 11 years afterwards, condemned drivers will have the conviction displayed on their licences, meaning it could be tricky to find an insurance provider.

Experts say some over-the-counter medicines can cause dizziness, drowsiness, impaired judgement and slower reaction times. And the NHS strongly advises anyone who takes these avoids using heavy machinery.

Anyone driving and on legal drugs should make sure they are:

  • The one who has been prescribed the medicine
  • Followed advice on how to take the medication
  • Not above any legal limits as a result of taking the medicine

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Greg Wilson, founder and CEO of, said: “You might not think taking cold and flu tablets could lead to a criminal conviction, but many common over-the-counter drugs have ingredients that could make you drowsy.

“If you’re unwell, it’s imperative to check what you are taking won’t cause drowsiness or dizziness or any side effects that could impair your ability to drive such as blurred vision or slow reaction times.

“We all feel like we don’t have time to be sick sometimes, lives are just too hectic but driving in an impaired state is very serious, meaning the penalties for doing so can be life-changing.

“Even if you are used to taking the medication in question and it hasn’t previously affected your driving, if you get stopped by police or you’re involved in an incident and your medication has a warning not to operate heavy machinery, you’ll likely still be charged. The safest thing to do is avoid driving, rest up and not take the risk.”

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