Over the counter cold and flu medicines could put motorists over the drug drive limit under new regulations due to come into force on 02 March 2015.

Police have warned that drivers using legally obtainable drugs, such as Night Nurse, could face being penalised for drug driving following the introduction of a new drug driving law and roadside drug driving test. Eight over the counter drugs will be affected by the drug driving test.

The new drug driving law will make it an offence to be over the specified limit for individual drugs while driving, including both illegal and legal drugs. Offending motorists could face a 12 month driving ban, a fine of up to £5,000 or six months in prison.

Medicines which cause drowsiness are clearly labelled with warnings and motorists should avoid taking any medication which may affect their driving capability.

Helen Williams, a senior road accident solicitor based in Thompsons Solicitors’ Bristol office, said: “By simply dosing up on cold and flu medicines, drivers may unwittingly be heightening their chances of being involved in a road traffic accident, potentially causing serious injury to themselves or other road users.

“It is ultimately the responsibility of drivers to remain vigilant that they are safe to drive, but the government needs to invest in drug driving awareness campaigns so the public receives sufficient information about the dangers and consequences of driving under the influence of drugs, especially when it involves medicines that might be available over the counter or from a GP.”