Hay fever warning as medication could land Irish drivers with a drug driving conviction

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With temperatures in Ireland continuing to rise, many hayfever sufferers are reaching for medication to ease their symptoms as the pollen count reaches ‘Very High’ due to the heat. Insurance experts, Quote Devil was warned that taking legal hayfever medication before driving can put Irish motorists at risk of receiving a driving ban of up to six years.

Over-the-counter and prescription drugs like antihistamines can help to relieve symptoms commonly associated with hay fever such as sneezing, runny nose and itchy and watery eyes, but there are not without their risks for drivers.

The Irish insurance experts explain that, according to the Road Safety Authority, it is illegal to drive under the influence of drugs (including prescription drugs) if your driving is impaired to such an extent that you don’t have proper control of the vehicle. If convicted of an existing offence, the minimum disqualification on a first offence is four years and six years for a second or subsequent offence.

Some antihistamines such as chlorphenamine (including Piriton) and promethazine can make you feel sleepy and the HSE advises not to drive or use machinery after taking any type of antihistamine.

Gemma Keaveney, CEO at Quote Devil comments, “We want to make Irish motorists aware of the risks associated with driving when taking certain medications. Many antihistamines contain ingredients that can cause drowsiness which can slow down reaction times and blur vision when operating a vehicle.

“If an accident is caused and the driver is found to be driving under an impaired state, then they face the maximum penalties and possible imprisonment. Always make sure to check the instructions on medications. ”

Quote Devil’s top tips for driving safely while on medication

While you make feel okay to drive, it’s important to remember that medications and dosages affect people differently. If taking medication, make sure to read the medicine leaflet carefully and follow the usage instructions to avoid driving while impaired. Some antihistamines may last longer in your system than others. You may not notice the sedating effects of these medications taking place until some time after you’ve taken them.

If you’re unsure, doctors and nurses can clarify any potential side effects with your medication and possibly adjust your dosage if needed. If buying medication over the counter, antihistamines such as cetirizine, fexofenadine and loratadine are classed as the non-drowsy type and are less likely to make you feel sleepy.