t can be tempting to head home for a pint at the pub with friends, but we all know that too much of it can be dangerous.
It’s impossible to tell if you can drive safely after drinking alcohol, so it’s best not to have one before you get behind the wheel.
Drivers who have as little as 10mg of alcohol per 100ml in their system are more than a third more likely to be involved in a fatal accident than those who do not drink.
This is just one eighth of the UK legal limit.
Here’s the UK law on what you can drink before you get behind the wheel.
How many units of alcohol can you drink before driving?
There is no single version of the limit for alcohol consumption, instead it is measured at 80 milligrams per 100 milliliters.
There are many factors that can affect your ability to drink, such as: B. body mass, gender and how quickly your body absorbs alcohol.
Generally, two pints of beer or two small glasses of wine are enough to get you over the legal limit.
The stronger your drink, the longer it takes to leave your body, so a large glass of wine (250ml) can still be in your blood for four hours.
While a pint may take less time to leave your body — two hours instead of four — you still need to allow an hour for it to be absorbed into your body.
All of this means mathematically that if you have four pints and stop drinking at midnight, you won’t be able to drive safely before 9am.
If you treat yourself to a bottle of wine, to be on the safe side, you should not drive until 1 p.m. the next day.
Obviously everyone has their own limitations as our bodies process alcohol differently.
The easiest way to feel safe behind the wheel and obey the law is to not drink at all if you plan on driving.
You should also allow yourself enough time the next day before you set off.
What is the drink driving limit in the UK?
The drink driving limit in the UK varies depending on which country you are in.
There is one rule for motorists in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and another rule for motorists in Scotland.
The borders for England, Wales and Northern Ireland are:
- 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood
- 35 micrograms per 100 milliliters of breath
- 107 milligrams per 100 milliliters of urine.
The following limit values apply in Scotland:
- 50 milligrams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood
- 22 micrograms per 100 milliliters of breath
- 67 milligrams per 100 milliliters of urine.
Scottish rules mean you can break the limit with just one drink.
Remember that even if you’re under the limit, a single drink can affect your driving skills.
With just 10mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood (one eighth the limit in England and Wales) you are 37% more likely to die in an accident than when you are completely sober.
Even if you think you can handle your drink, it’s best not to drive after drinking alcohol.
How can alcohol affect driving?
Your ability to drive safely with alcohol in your system is affected by:
- The brain takes longer to receive messages from the eye
- Processing information becomes more difficult
- Instructions to the body muscles are delayed, resulting in slower reaction times
- Blurred and double vision affects your ability to see things clearly while driving
- You’re more likely to take potentially dangerous risks because you’re responding to urges that you normally suppress
Remember that you will have all or some of these impairments, not just one.
All of these effects together can lead to dangerous driving
READ MORE IN UK ROAD LAWS
What can affect the drunk driving limit?
There are several factors that can affect how much alcohol gets absorbed into your blood, which can push you to break the limit.
These levels can depend on:
- Your weight, age, gender and metabolism (the rate at which your body uses energy)
- the type and amount of alcohol you drink
- what you ate recently
- Your stress level at the time
What are the penalties for drunk driving?
If you cause death while driving under the influence of alcohol, you could face a prison sentence of up to 14 years.
If you’re caught just over the limit you could face a driving ban, a £2,500 fine and even a short prison sentence.
The actual sentence you receive is up to the judges hearing your case and depends on your offence.
Here are the maximum penalties for drunk drivers:
- Being responsible for a vehicle while over the legal limit or incapacitated by alcohol: three months in prison, a fine of up to £2,500 and a possible driving ban
- Driving or attempting to drive while over the legal limit or incapacitated by alcohol: six months imprisonment, an endless fine and a driving ban of at least one year (three years if convicted twice in 10 years)
- Refusal to provide a breath, blood or urine sample for analysis: six months imprisonment, a never-ending fine and a driving ban of at least one year
- Death by careless driving under the influence of alcohol: 14 years imprisonment, an unlimited fine, a driving ban of at least two years and an extended driving test before the driver’s license is returned
Other problems are:
- A significant increase in the cost of car insurance
- If you drive for work, your employer will see your conviction on your driver’s license
- You may have trouble traveling to countries like the United States
When was the first street alcohol test carried out?
50 years ago, on October 8, 1967, the first street alcohol test was carried out.
In the year the breathalyzer was introduced, 1,640 people died in drink-related accidents, but innkeepers protested to then Transport Secretary Barbara Castle that the new law could put them out of business.
AA President Edmund King said: “The breathalyzer is the top three life-saving road safety measures introduced in the last half century, along with mandatory seat belts and the introduction of EuroNCAP crash tests.
“The Breathalyzer and subsequent campaigns saved thousands of lives and helped make drinking and driving socially unacceptable.”
Which celebrities have been caught drunk behind the wheel?
Troubled TV star Ant McPartlin has been handed one of Britain’s heaviest fines after injuring a four-year-old girl by crashing into her parents’ car in Richmond, London.
He was stabbed for £86,000 after pleading guilty to double drunk driving at Wimbledon Magistrates Court.
Ex-England captain Wayne Rooney was arrested for drunk driving – and later pleaded guilty to the offence.
Sky Sports presenter Kirsty Gallacher was banned from driving for two years in 2017 after admitting to driving over the limit.
And Liverpool ace Roberto Firmino was banned from driving for 12 months in February 2017 after being caught driving on the wrong side of the road and exceeding the legal alcohol limit.