Drink Driving

Christmas is coming and the next few days may pass in a haze of socialising with friends, office parties and festive meals. If you drive, don’t take any chances. Annually, one in six deaths on the road involve drivers who are over the legal alcohol limit and on average, three thousand people are seriously injured or killed in drink-driving collisions.

In the UK, it is illegal to drive when drunk.

The law surrounding drink-driving offences can appear to be complicated. Variables can contribute to the alcohol in your system which may impair your ability to drive safely. Weight, metabolism, age, sex and even what food you’ve eaten that day and your stress levels can all make a difference.

So, what is the Drink-Driving law in the UK? In England and Wales, the law states that a driver can have no more than 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood and 35 micrograms per 100 millilitres of breath. In Scotland, things are different and the limit has been reduced to 50 milligrams of alcohol in every 100 millilitres of blood and 22 micrograms of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath.

The consequences of being over the limit are serious and may be life-changing if you cause a death or injury by careless driving whilst under the influence. You may receive a driving ban, a heavy fine or even find yourself incarcerated in prison. Your insurance will be affected in a negative way and you may struggle to get cover. There are strict penalties if you are caught over the limit and if you are banned by a UK court, you cannot drive anywhere.

Christmas will see the annual series of powerful and often shocking adverts aimed at stopping drivers from having a drink before they get behind the wheel of their vehicle. Despite such campaigns, around a hundred thousand drivers lose their licence each year because they’ve been caught while driving over the legal limit. You may think that just the one won’t make a difference but it is best not to take any chances if you’re driving. It’s just not worth it.

Remember too that you can still be over the limit the morning after the night before. Even if you’ve had a good night’s sleep in between drinking, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the alcohol will have left your system. You may not be safe to drive to work. NHS Choices suggest the following as a guide:

•One hour for the alcohol to be absorbed
•One hour for each unit consumed

What is a unit? Alcohol is measured in units and be careful because they can add up, especially if free-pouring with friends. For example:

A single shot of spirit (e.g. whisky) is one unit
A pint of beer is two units
A 250ml glass of wine is four units
A pint of cider is three units

Even if you feel perfectly sober, just one drink can make you less safe behind the wheel. Alcohol reduces reaction times and increases a false sense of confidence leading to risk taking. Having a drink may make you feel drowsy and reduce your vision and skill in judging speed and distance.

Our police are extra vigilant at Christmas and watch the roads carefully. If you don’t want to get caught drink-driving, stay off the booze and use a taxi or find a designated driver. Don’t let one stupid mistake impact harmfully on your life for years.

Keep safe and let sober drivers do the driving this Christmas.