| Thursday 20th December 2018 2:00pm
We’re 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 you’re breaking the law.
Aside from just a criminal record, being convicted of drink driving can also affect your life in other ways, including (but not limited to):
- Increasing the cost of your car insurance significantly
- Making it difficult to pursue a career where driving is involved
- Making it much harder to travel to countries like the USA
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
We’ve heard it before, but let’s raise it again: drinking compromises 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.
What’s 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, it’s likely you are unfit to drive and you’ll 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
It’s 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.
So, these are the limits. But what happens if you get caught driving over them?
3. 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.
What are the drink driving penalties?
There are a whole set of drink driving penalties with varying levels of severity aimed to discourage any driver from taking the risk. In the UK, you can even face consequences for ‘being in charge of a vehicle while above the legal limit or unfit through drink’.
Using a common sentence, “Driving or attempting to drive while above the legal limit or unfit through drink”, the possible penalties you can receive are:
- 6 months imprisonment
- An unlimited fine
- Or a driving ban for at least 1 year (3 years if convicted twice in 10 years)
Ask yourself, is it worth another drink? As for the maximum penalty, this comes with causing death by careless or drink driving, you may face:
- Up to 14 years’ imprisonment
- An unlimited fine
- A ban from driving for at least 2 years
- An extended driving test before your licence is returned
4. You can still be over the legal limit the next day
Counting the number of alcohol units you drink in a bid to stay under the legal limit is a risky approach. The fact is that people react to alcohol differently.
A number of factors, including:
- Your weight
- Your age
- Your 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, it’s near impossible to know if you’re 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 you’ve got your car with you, it’s best that you avoid drinking altogether.
5. The consequences of drink driving can be life changing
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 won’t help you sober up. It’s a possibility that the alcohol you consumed the night before is still in your system when you wake up in the morning. The same can be said for recreational drug use and driving.
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 you’ve consumed is out of your body. So, if you need to drive somewhere the next morning, it’s a good idea to arrange alternative travel arrangements or wait until later in the day before you get behind the wheel.
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 you’re 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 it’s not quite the same, you’ll be able to drive home safely – and you’ll manage to swerve a hangover the next day. For more information on how to avoid drink driving, head over to WiseDriving’s latest blog post.
Stay safe with Kwik Fit
Aside from drink driving, there are a whole number of driving offences you should avoid at all costs when you’re out and about on the roads. Check out our blog post on six driving violations that could land you in big trouble.
While it is essential that you are in a fit condition to drive, the condition of your car is also key to road safety. Maintaining a roadworthy vehicle requires regular servicing and MOTs, so book an appointment at your local Kwik Fit centre today and stay safe out there.
Any facts, figures and prices shown in our blog articles are correct at time of publication.
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