Drink driving…not such a smart idea

In 2012, 1,200 people were seriously injured when a driver was over the legal alcohol limit. As a result, 280 people were killed in drink driving accidents.

These figures are too high but accidents involving drink driving have decreased hugely over the last 35 years. Deaths and serious injuries related to drink driving have fallen by more than three-quarters since 1979.

What’s the law on drink driving?

In the UK, the alcohol limit for drivers is 80 milligrammes of alcohol per 100millilitres of blood, 35 microgrammes per 100 millilitres of breath, however remember if you are driving abroad the limits are far lower in most countries!

How much can you drink and stay under the limit?

There is no way of knowing how much you can drink and stay under the limits.

How your body deals with alcohol depends of many factors, these factors mean that you may well be over the limit after one drink and your friend could have 2 identical drinks and remain under the limit

These factors are;

  • your weight
  • your gender (men tend to process alcohol faster than women)
  • your metabolism
  • the type and amount you’re drinking
  • your current stress levels
  • whether you’ve eaten recently
  • age (younger people tend to process alcohol more slowly)

How alcohol affects driving

We can’t recommend that you consume any alcohol whatsoever if you intend on driving however if you do it’s important for you to understand how alcohol effects the brain..

  • the brain takes longer to receive messages from the eye
  • processing information becomes more difficult
  • instructions to the body’s muscles are delayed resulting in slower reaction times.

You can also experience blurred and double vision, which affects your ability to see things clearly while you are driving. And you’re more likely to take potentially dangerous risks because you can act on urges you normally repress

How would I be tested for drink driving?

Even small amounts of alcohol affect your ability to drive and the only safe advice is to avoid any alcohol if you are driving.

If the police want to investigate whether you are over the drink driving limit, they will carry out a screening breath test at the roadside. To do this, they will use a breathalyser.

If you fail this test, or if they have other grounds to believe that your driving was impaired through drink, you will be arrested and taken to a police station.

At the station you will need to provide two more breath specimens into a complex breathalyzer, called an evidential breath testing instrument. The lower of the two readings is used to decide whether you are above the drink driving limit.

If the evidential breath sample is up to 40% over the limit you have the right to replace your evidential breath specimen with blood or urine – the police officer will decide which test you will have. If your evidential samples show that you are over the limit, you will be charged.

The police can carry out a breathalyzer test if you have committed a moving traffic offence (such as banned turns) been involved in an accident, or have given the police grounds to believe you are over the limit.

The police are allowed to stop any vehicle at their discretion, and will often set up drink driving check points over periods such as Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

 

What’s the punishment if I get caught drink driving?

Anyone caught over the legal alcohol limit when driving will be banned from driving for at least 12 months, and fined up to £5,000. You can also be given between three to 11 penalty driving points. And you could be sent to prison for up to six months. Imprisonment, the period of disqualification, size of fine and penalty points depend on the seriousness of the offence (6).

If you’re caught drink driving more than once in a 10 year period, you’ll be banned for at least three years.

How to ensure you don’t drink and drive

  • Arrange within your group of friends who’s going to be the designated driver. A designated driver is the person who abstains from alcohol on a night out so they can drive the rest of their group of friends home safely.
  • If you live somewhere with good public transport links – take advantage of them. If you’re planning on staying out beyond the last train, tube or bus, make sure you’ve got a couple of taxi numbers.

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