During these wintry months, people tend to battle more coughs and colds. It's common to stock up on over-the-counter cold medications at the first sign of the sniffles. We often take these medications in hopes of alleviating our cold symptoms without much thought. But, are you aware of the dangers of driving while taking over-the-counter cold medicine? Not only could it impair your driving, but you might end up being banned from driving!

Drivers in Wales, England, and Scotland should be aware that driving while taking certain medications could bring serious consequences. The law specifies limits of medications present in the blood which cannot be exceded. It's important to check with your doctor to see if driving with your prescribed medications could be problematic. Because some medicine can cause drowsiness, dizziness, or impair coordination, the ability of drivers can be dangerously impaired. Those who drive and are found to have above the imposed limit of medication in their blood could receive at least a one-year driving ban and a criminal record.

It is highly recommended that anyone who is prescribed the following medication to ask their physician if driving could be adversely affected:

  • amphetamine, for example dexamphetamine or selegiline
  • clonazepam
  • diazepam
  • flunitrazepam
  • lorazepam
  • methadone
  • morphine or opiate and opioid-based drugs, for example codeine, tramadol or fentanyl
  • oxazepam
  • temazepam

If a driver is pulled over by police for suspected driving impairment due to drink or drugs, the police officer will conduct a field impairment assessment. Tests may be conducted to detect traces of drugs such as a mouth swab. Any motorist who is found to be under the influence of drink or drugs will face some serious consequences such as fines, driving bans, and possibly imprisonment. According to Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf, there is a "zero-tolerance" approach to drivers found with drugs in their system.

In recent months, the number of drivers convicted of driving while under the influence of drugs has skyrocketed. During the past year, 20,000 motorists were convicted of drug-driving which included the use of prescription medications. Motorists can be fined up to £1,000 for failing to notify the DVLA of a medical condition and prescriptions that can affect their driving.