It’s a difficult time of year from us, drivers, pressure just to have small glass of wine, or pressure not to drink at the Christmas party, because your driving the next morning, and it’s doesn’t matter how tempting this may be, not only do we need to protect our jobs, but the likely hood of killing someone is most likely.
Alcohol remains in our body for around 24-48 hours. Your ability to react quickly may be reduced, and the effects will still be evident the next morning, when it’s more likely that you could still fail a breath test.
Your body tissues actually need up to 48 hours to recover, although your breath/blood alcohol levels may appear normal after 24 hours. the only safe limit, ever, is a zero limit.
The police can ask you to perform a breath test if they suspect you’ve been drinking. This includes if your driving seems erratic or if you’ve been involved in a collision. Drink-driving offences will result in mandatory disqualification from driving.
Since the breathalyser laws were introduced in 1967, there has been constant efforts to reinforce the message about the risks of drink-driving. These campaigns have largely been successful. However, while the number of alcohol-related crashes and drink-drive convictions has reduced, it remains a problem. in 2012 there were more than 50,000 drink-drive convictions in England and Wales, and more than 7,000 in Scotland. To put this into context, there were 100,000+ convictions per year in England and Wales alone for the years 1987-1990.
The best approach is not to drink any alcohol at all before driving. Many drivers find themselves on the wrong side of the law the ‘morning after’, not realising that they’re still over the limit as a result of the previous evening’s alcohol consumption. If in doubt, don’t take the chance – your driving may still be impaired and you could cause a collision.
People are affected by alcohol, and each person can be affected differently at different times, so it’s important not to assume that the legal limit is equivalent to a certain amount of an alcoholic drink.
The factors that influence the extent to which alcohol affects you, and therefore your driving performance, include
- physical structure – gender, weight and metabolic rate
- food consumption – drinking on an empty stomach means that alcohol is absorbed more quickly
- illness = the dehydration that’s associated with many common illnesses increases the rate of alcohol absorption
- medication – some drugs interact with alcohol, resulting in additional effects.
- Be aware that you could be impaired or even still over the legal limit many hours after your last drink, even the ‘morning after’.
- Sleep, coffee and cold showers won’t help you to sober up. The alcohol is still in your blood.
- Alcohol can make you feel overconfident about your driving. Make sure you fully acknowledge your impairment and ask someone else to drive.
- Agree on a designated driver before you start drinking.
- Save the number of a taxi firm to your phone so you can call for a cab if you need one.
- Find out about public transport routes and times before you do out.
- Don’t accept a lift from a driver you know has drunk alcohol.
The drink-driving laws have been in place for a long time, but more recently there has been a focus on the issue of driving while under the influence of drugs. Given the number of illegal substances that are available, the processes and laws aren’t as clear-cut as those relating to alcohol.
The police can also use ‘drugalysers’ to test you for cannabis and cocaine at the roadside.
It’s illegal to drive if either
- you’re unfit to do so because you’ve taken legal or illegal drugs, or
- you have more than specified levels of certain drugs in your blood (even if they haven’t affected your driving)