When you know you are a responsible driver it’s tempting to think that drink driving doesn’t apply to you because you wouldn’t get drunk and crash the car, would you? You wouldn’t ever have more than one, or maybe a couple, of pints?
Well, research shows that even very small amounts of alcohol can significantly slow reaction times and therefore increase the risk of crashing.¹ An estimated 65 road deaths per year are caused by drivers who are under the drink-drive limit, but who have a significant amount of alcohol in their blood.²
And drinking and driving doesn’t just risk your life, and the life of your passengers and other people on the road, you could face:
- 3 months in prison³
- a minimum 12 month driving ban
- a criminal record
- a fine of up to £5,000, and
- an endorsement on your licence for 11 years.⁴
Just on an everyday basis being caught drink driving can mean:
- losing your independence
- your car insurance premium will increase substantially
- losing your job
- the humiliation of having a criminal record
- difficulty going to countries like the USA.
The personal consequences of a drink driving conviction are life changing.
New drivers also face further penalties. Anyone passing their first driving test is ‘on probation’ for two years. A total of six or more penalty points during that time will mean they have to go back to learner status, apply for a new provisional licence and take their theory and practical driving tests again.⁵
UK law has strictly defined alcohol limits for all drivers:
- 35 microgrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath
- 80 milligrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood
- 107 milligrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of urine.
But any amount of alcohol can affect the ability to drive and how much you can drink varies from person to person depending on:
- your weight, age, gender and metabolism (the rate your body uses energy)
- the type and amount of alcohol you’re drinking
- what you’ve eaten recently
- your stress levels at the time.
The only foolproof advice is to avoid drinking alcohol if you are driving.⁶
And watch out the morning after too.
You can be over the legal limit for driving many hours after your last drink – even the morning after. Sleep, coffee or cold showers may make you feel more awake but they won’t sober you up – time is the only way to get alcohol out of the body.
Young drivers are twice as likely to be recorded as impaired by alcohol after crashing than older drivers and they have more drink drive crashes per licence holder or per mile travelled than any other age group.⁷
And, not having far to travel doesn’t help either.[symple_box color=”gray” text_align=”left” width=”100%” float=”none”] Here’s a sobering fact: a large proportion of all drink drive crashes occur within three miles of the start of the journey.⁸
So if you’re planning on drinking alcohol, plan how to get home without driving. You can:
- agree with friends on a designated driver who won’t be drinking and can take you all safely home at the end of the night
- save a couple of taxi numbers to your phone
- find out about public transport routes and times before you go out.
And, even if you know better than to drive after drinking, help others to do the same by:
- not offering an alcoholic drink to someone you know is planning to drive
- and, not accepting a lift from a driver you know has drunk alcohol.
Don’t let the next round be an expensive one. Stay sober to drive.
Sources: www.brake.org.uk/assets/docs/dl_reports/DLreport6-YoungDrivers-pt1-Dec11.pdf (The relationship between serious injury and blood alcohol concentration (BAC) in fatal motor vehicle accidents: BAC = 0.01% is associated with significantly more dangerous accidents than BAC = 0.00%, University of California at San Diego, 2011)
 www.brake.org.uk/assets/docs/dl_reports/DLreport6-YoungDrivers-pt1-Dec11.pdf (Reducing the BAC limit to 50mg – what can we expect to gain?, Professor Richard E Allsop, Centre for Transport Studies University College London (PACTS, 2005))
  http://think.direct.gov.uk/drink-driving.html
 www.brake.org.uk/assets/docs/dl_reports/DLreport6-YoungDrivers-pt1-Dec11.pdf (Reported Road Casualties Great Britain 2010 annual report, Department for Transport, 2011).