Can I drive the morning after drinking alcohol?

Common Misconceptions

A common misconception is that sleeping quickens alcohol’s ‘wear off’ time.  According to research conducted by Road Safety charity ‘Brake’, one in five drivers admit to driving the morning after they drank a lot the night before.

“Many drivers who would not consider driving after a night in the pub fail to recognise the influence of alcohol on their body the next day, or simply choose to ignore its effects,” says Alice Granville, policy and research analyst from the Institute of Advanced Motoring. “Drivers need to take responsibility and use alternative means of transport after a heavy night drinking.”

Drink Driving Laws

The legal alcohol limit for drivers in Northern Ireland is:

• 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

It is impossible to say how many drinks this equates to as it all depends on the individual.

The only way to be sure is, don’t take any risks.

Hand eye coordination is one of the many skills that are impaired when under the influence of alcohol, increasing the probability of having an accident.

If you know that you will be driving the morning after a night out, drink within the low risk alcohol unit guidelines or opt for lower strength drinks.

Remember, you are recommended by health experts not to drink regularly more than 14 units per week of which you should spread out over the span of the week, and not drink all on one night.

Can I sleep it off or speed up the process?

Sleeping has no effect on the passing of alcohol, it all depends on the individual to know how long it takes for alcohol to clear through the system,  but in general, alcohol is removed from the blood at the rate of about one unit an hour.

You cannot speed the process of alcohol passing through the system. There are many mechanisms at work when your body passes alcohol, all of which depend on the individual, so it may take longer for some. The process can take longer if your liver is damaged or not working normally.

If you know you will be driving the morning after stop drinking alcohol well before the end of the night so your body has time to process it before the following morning.

Key Points

  • You could still be over the limit the morning after a night of drinking alcohol
  • Even very small amounts of alcohol affect your hazard perception and reaction times
  • Sleeping has no effect on the passing of alcohol
  • It is not possible to speed up the process of alcohol passing through the system
  • It is recommended to drink no more than 14 units per week

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