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6 drink driving facts you need to know

| Thursday 20th December 2018 2:00pm

Man in car

Weíre all aware that driving while under the influence of alcohol is illegal - but there is more to know about this behaviour than the simple fact that youíre breaking the law. To get clued up on this offence, and to learn about the steps you can take to ensure you stay safe on the roads, keep reading.

1. Drinking jeopardises your ability to drive safely

When you drink alcohol, many of the physiological functions you would normally rely on to drive safely are seriously affected. For instance, if you drive while over the limit it can take your brain longer to receive messages from the eye, and processing this information can be more difficult. Whatís more, your brain is delayed in sending instructions to your muscles, meaning that your reaction times are much slower. You may also experience blurred or double vision. As a result, itís likely you are unfit to drive and youíll be at a much higher risk of having a collision, putting the safety (and potentially lives) of you, your passengers, and other road users at risk.

2. The drink drive limit differs around the UK

Itís important to note that the drink drive limit differs around the UK. In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the current limit for drivers is:

  • 80 milligrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood
  • 35 micrograms of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath
  • 107 milligrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of urine

However, the limit for drivers in Scotland is lower. The current limit for this part of the UK is:

  • 50 milligrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood
  • 22 micrograms of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath
  • 67 milligrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of urine

In late 2014, the Scottish Government reduced the drink driving limit in Scotland to bring the country in line with the majority of other countries in Europe in an attempt to make the roads safer.

3. Counting your units may not help you stay under the drink drive limit

Counting the number of alcohol units you drink in a bid to stay under the legal limit is a risky approach. The fact is, people react to alcohol differently.

A number of factors, including your weight, your age, gender and your metabolism can determine how much alcohol you would need to drink, as well as the type of alcohol you are drinking. What you have eaten recently and your current stress levels can even have an impact.

The truth is, itís near impossible to know if youíre under the drink drive limit simply by counting your units. Even a small amount of alcohol can affect your ability to drive safely. So, if youíve got your car with you, itís best that you avoid drinking altogether.

4. You can still be over the legal limit the next day

Did you know that you can still be over the legal drink driving limit the next day? Although a good sleep, a strong cup of coffee and a long shower may help you feel more awake, they wonít help you sober up. Itís a possibility that the alcohol you consumed the night before is still in your system when you wake up in the morning.

According to the NHS, it can take about one hour for your body to break down one unit of alcohol. For example, there are roughly three units in a large glass (250ml) of average-strength (12%) wine, so it could take your body around three hours to break down this alcohol. The more alcohol you consume, the longer it will take for your body to remove it from your system.

Time is the only way to make sure that all of the alcohol youíve consumed is out of your body. So, if you need to drive somewhere the next morning, itís a good idea to arrange alternative travel arrangements or wait until later in the day before you get behind the wheel.

5. The consequences of drink driving can be life changing

In short, driving while above the legal drink driving limit is a criminal offence. If a person is found to be driving under the influence of alcohol, they could receive a fine or be banned from driving for a certain period of time, with the severity of these punishments depending on how serious the offence is.

However, the consequences for committing this crime can be life changing beyond a fine or ban. In some cases, a person who is found to be driving under the influence could be imprisoned. Depending on the circumstances surrounding the incident, this could be from anything from six months to years in prison. In cases where a death has occurred due to careless driving while drink driving, a person could receive a 14-year prison sentence.

Being convicted of drink driving can affect everyday life too. For instance, you could lose your job, and it could make finding employment more difficult as employers will be able to see your conviction on your licence. You may also find that your car insurance is significantly higher, and you may struggle to enter other countries, such as the USA, which can affect your plans to holiday, study or work abroad.

6. Avoiding drink driving is easier than you might think

There is no excuse for drink driving, so you should do what you can to avoid putting yourself in this potentially life-threatening situation. For instance, if youíre going out with your friends, you could arrange for someone to be the designated driver. This person refrains from drinking alcohol so that they can drive the rest of the group home safely. To make it fair, you could take it in turns each time you arrange a night out.

Alternatively, you could look into the local public transport links available and take advantage of them. If you plan on staying out later than the last train, bus or tube, why not book yourself a taxi home?

If you have no choice but to drive, you could always order a non-alcoholic beer or wine, a mocktail, or a soft drink. Although itís not quite the same, youíll be able to drive home safely - and youíll manage to swerve a hangover the next day.

Aside from drink driving, there are a whole number of driving offences you should avoid at all costs when youíre out and about on the roads. Check out our blog post on six driving violations that could land you in big trouble.

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