Motorists Risk Prosecution For Driving Under The In-Flu-Ence

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Taking over-the-counter drugs such as flu tablets, painkillers and cough syrup while driving could lead to prosecution or losing your licence, according to Swinton, the UK's leading high street motor insurance retailer.

Swinton Car Insurance

If the police stop you and determine that you are unfit to drive due to the medication you have taken, you can get pet penalty points, lose your licence or even be prosecuted. Whether the drugs are illegal, prescribed, or over-the-counter, the repercussions are the same.

Taking over-the-counter drugs such as flu tablets, painkillers and cough syrup while driving could lead to prosecution or losing your licence, according to Swinton, the UK's leading high street motor insurance retailer.

According to The Crown Prosecution Service, the Road Traffic Act (RTA) that relates to driving while under the influence of drugs does not differentiate between prescription drugs, illegal drugs or over the counter remedies. The penalty for drug driving is the same as drink driving and could lead to a fine of up to £5,000 or a minimum one year ban.

Many over-the-counter remedies such as flu tablets and cough syrups can cause drowsiness leading to impaired driving. Some medications also contain antihistamines which aid sleep when suffering from a cold, but this can cause drowsiness the following day, especially if combined with Christmas drinks.

Dr Chris Steele, resident doctor from ITV's This Morning, said: "Many people are not aware of the strength of some over-the-counter medicines and the side affects they can have including drowsiness, dizziness and confusion. I would strongly recommend that if taking any medicines you should read the instructions and warnings very carefully and be extra vigilant about driving or operating any machinery.

"Some people even take a cocktail of different medications to help alleviate their cold or flu symptoms. This could react with prescription treatment you take from your doctor, so ask your pharmacist about all the medicines you're taking i.e. over the counter and prescription medication."

A survey of 721 Swinton car insurance customers found that 21% of motorists did not read the warnings on over-the-counter medicines and a further 18% claimed that they would happily drive while taking flu or cold medication regardless of any warnings on the packet. Worryingly 76% of those questioned did not consider driving a car to be 'operating heavy machinery' and listed cranes, fork lift trucks and factory machinery as items they consider to be 'heavy'.

The study also found that 20% of motorists admitted to drinking alcohol while taking over-the-counter drugs and then driving to work the next morning.

Steve Chelton, Insurer Development Manager, for Swinton said "If the police stop you and determine that you are unfit to drive due to the medication you have taken, you can get pet penalty points, lose your licence or even be prosecuted. Whether the drugs are illegal, prescribed, or over-the-counter, the repercussions are the same."

"Losing or having points added to your licence can cause your car insurance premiums to rise considerably."

For more information contact Anoushka Foster, Michael Travers, Lucy Oats or Daniel Kennedy at SKV Public Relations on 0161 838 7770.

About Swinton

  •     With 470 branches nationwide Swinton is the UK's largest high street insurance retailer
  •     Unlike many other companies in the financial services industry, Swinton is committed to keeping its branches open for business, and part of the community
  •     Swinton provides a one-stop-shop for the insurance and related needs of its clients, offering home, car, caravan, business, holiday, motorbike and even classic car insurance
  •     With a dedicated team of advisors on hand at every branch to search a panel of insurers to offer quality cover at competitive rates

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Lucy Oates
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