This time of year is associated with the usual shopping rush and preparations, parties and celebrations. Police forces also launch their annual Christmas campaigns aimed at raising awareness of the dangers of drink driving.
So much is discussed about the amount you can drink before being over the legal limit. We hear people saying “a pint and a half is alright”. The difficulty is that there is no exact science.
Your metabolism, the type of drink consumed, your weight, age, sex, stress levels at the time, what you’ve eaten recently... many factors impact on the absorption and elimination of alcohol in your system.
Another misconception stated is “we lose half a pint an hour so if I stop drinking at 10pm and don’t drive by 2am, I will be alright after 2 pints”. This is a dangerous calculation and not to be relied on because alcohol is eliminated from a person’s system at different rates. There are strict alcohol limits for drivers, but it’s impossible to say exactly how many drinks this equals to.
If found to be over the drink drive limit, you face a mandatory disqualification. This can lead to devastating consequences for those people who rely on their car for all aspects of their life. If an accident occurs and alcohol (or drugs) have played a role, the Courts can impose custodial sentences. The same applies for high reading and repeat drink drive offences.
In 2014, there were over 8,000 casualties due to alcohol related driving accidents, and 260 deaths.
Prosecutions are brought in accordance with the Road Traffic Act 1988 for:
- driving (or in charge) when under the influence of drink or drugs (section 4);
- driving (or in charge/attempting to drive) with excess alcohol (section 5);
- failing to provide a specimen of breath for screening (section 6(4));
- failing to provided a specimen for analysis (section 7(6)).
The drink drive limit is different in England and Wales to Scotland, where it was lowered in 2014:
Level of Alcohol
England, Wales & Northern Ireland
Micrograms per 100 millilitres of breath
Milligrammes per 100 millilitres of blood
Milligrammes per 100 millilitres of urine
It continues to be debated whether there should be review of the legal limit in England and Wales, regarding whether it should be brought in line with Scotland or whether there should be a zero limit. The debate will go on, as will the message to be safe this Christmas and to drive carefully and legally.
Mike Hayward is a motoring specialist and advises on Road Traffic offences. For further information on our services for Road Traffic offences, including a video from Mike Hayward on disqualification, please click here.