Facts About Drinking & Driving You Need to Know

The pandemic is not the only reason we need to be asking people to stay safe this year. Drinking and driving is most common at Christmas time and it continues to be an issue in the UK even in 2020. Many fear that this year, some people may use the holiday season to have a ‘blow out’ and drink irresponsibly. Whilst there is no harm in having a few drinks and enjoying yourself, you must NOT drink and drive as it will put you and others at risk.

During the first half of 2020, despite falling traffic figures due to lockdown, it was reported that the DVLA still issued over 1.5 million licence points to drivers that had committed driving offences. This suggests that drivers are still just as likely to commit driving offences now than they were ‘before the pandemic’, even with travel restrictions in place.

At the end of 2019, the number of people caught drink driving during the holiday period was up 30% compared to previous years, according to the BBC, which is a worrying figure. With this in mind, we have put together a list of facts about alcohol consumption and how it affects your driving that you may not know.

What is the legal limit?

The alcohol limit in England, Wales and Northern Ireland for drivers is 80 milligrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood, 35 micrograms per 100 millilitres of breath, or 107 milligrammes per 100 millilitres of urine.

In many other European countries, the limit is much less and around 50 milligrammes per 100 millilitres of blood, which is also what the limit is in Scotland and differs from the rest of the UK.

The amount of alcohol you would need to drink to be considered over the driving limit varies from person to person and depends on your weight, age, sex and metabolism (the rate your body uses energy), the type and amount of alcohol you’re drinking, what you’ve eaten recently and also your stress levels at the time.

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

How does alcohol affect your driving?

When you consume alcohol, it affects the normal functions of our brain and causes some of them to become disrupted. For example, when you drink alcohol, the brain takes longer to receive messages from the eye, processing information becomes more difficult and 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.

What is a unit of alcohol?

Units are a way to tell how strong your drink is. One unit is 10ml or 8g of pure alcohol. Alcoholic drinks come in different strengths and sizes, so you will need to calculate the units for your preferred drink to discover how many units you are consuming.

It takes an average adult around an hour to process one unit of alcohol so that there's none left in their bloodstream, although this varies from person to person so is not a reliable way to avoid drink driving. It is recommended that you wait at least 12 hours before driving, especially after consuming a larger amount of alcohol as it can take a while for it to be out of your system, so best to be on the safe side.

You can use the unit calculator on the Drinkaware website to see how many units are in a range of different drinks: Unit and Calorie Calculator | Drinkaware

Though, it is still recommended that you try not to drink any alcohol if you plan to drive.

Stay Safe

We hope that you have found this information useful and that it may help you think more carefully before getting in the car after a beer or two.

We also hope that you all stay safe and well this holiday season. Feel free to contact us if you have any queries about vehicle maintenance throughout the Winter months and our friendly, knowledgeable team will be happy to help.

Relax whilst we work on your car

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(Waiting area is currently closed due to Covid-19. Please see our Visitors page for safety guidance.)

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