Every Christmas people are tempted to drive and drive.
It’s been a difficult year all round, and some of us will be taking a hard earned break over the Christmas period.
For some, that means having a drink… or many drinks.
But at Christmas people tend to take more risks and get behind the wheel of a car when it is not legal for them to do so.
According to road safety charity, Brake, you can never be too careful when it comes to getting behind the wheel after the night before.
These will include the morning after – when many people get caught out after a boozy night.
Drinkaware’s chief medical adviser, Dr Paul Wallace, said: “The amount of alcohol in your bloodstream depends on three things; the amount you take in, over what period of time and the speed at which your body gets rid of it.”
This is what you need to know.
What is the legal drink driving limit?
In England and Wales, the limit is 80mg of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood, 35 microgrammes per 100 millilitres of breath or 107mg per 100 millilitres of urine.
This limit was imposed in 1966 when the Road Safety Bill was introduced. In 1967 the breathalyser was introduced as a way of testing a person’s blood alcohol level.
What are the penalties for drink driving?
The consequences of being caught drink driving vary depending on the exact offence you’re convicted of.
You’ll end up in court and if you are found guilty of being in charge of a vehicle while above the legal limit or unfit through drink, you could face three months’ imprisonment, a fine of up to £2,500 and a driving ban.
The penalties are even steeper if you’re convicted of driving or attempting to drive while above the legal limit or unfit through drink.
The consequences of that include six months’ imprisonment, an unlimited fine and a driving ban of at least one year (or three, if this is your second offence in 10 years.)
There’s no evading justice by refusing to provide a breath sample to police officers either. Refusing to provide a specimen (either of breath, blood or urine) for analysis can lead to the same penalties.
If the worst happens and a drink driver tragically kills someone due to their careless driving, they could be facing 14 years’ in prison.
They could also be hit with an unlimited fine and a driving ban for at least two years.
How long should you wait before driving?
Alcohol is removed from the blood at the rate of about one unit an hour – but this varies from person to person.
According to the NHS, the speed at which your body processes alcohol can depend on your size, gender, age, the state of your liver, your metabolism, how much food you have eaten, the type and strength of the alcohol you’ve consumed and whether you’re taking medication.
Are there any tricks to sober up quicker?
You can get confidential advice by calling their friendly team on 01752 434343.
This service is also available to families, friends or anyone who needs advice around alcohol or drug use.
In an emergency
If you or someone you know needs urgent help outside of office hours, call 111 for NHS medical advice, or if you are in mental distress call the Samaritans on 116 123.
In an emergency, call 999.
Rehab 4 Addiction offers drug and alcohol detoxification and rehabilitation services in Plymouth. This service is offered on an inpatient basis, meaning you live within a Plymouth rehab centre whilst you receive medical assistance throughout your stay.
To learn more, contact Rehab 4 Addiction on 0800 140 4690
If you are struggling with problematic alcohol or drug use and want help to change your life, to leave the chaos behind, Hamoaze House can help you.
Tel: 01752 566100
Provides support about what to do if you are worried you are drinking too much.
Drinkline (0300 123 1110) is a confidential helpline you can call if you’re worried about your drinking.
FRANK helps you find out everything you might want to know about drugs (and some stuff you don’t). For friendly, confidential advice, Talk to FRANK
Provides information about what to do if you think you’re drinking too much and also gives contacts for national organisations that can help if you are affected by drinking.
No. Drinking lots of water, or eating a big breakfast might help “sober you up”, but it won’t actually quicken the speed at which alcohol leaves the body, according to Dr Wallace.
What if you need to drive the next day?
Drinkaware suggests to opt for lower strength drinks and choose single measure instead of doubles. Try and drink water or a soft drink in between each round, and make sure to stop drinking before the end of the night so your body has time to process the alcohol before the morning.
How many units does a drink contain?
According to the NHS there is roughly:
- 2.1 units in one 175ml glass of 12% wine
- 3 units in one 250ml glass of 12% wine
- 2 units in one pint of 3.6% lager, beer or cider
- 3 units in one pint of 5.2% lager, beer or cider (5.2%) – 3 units
- 1 unit in one single measure of spirits