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12.12.2015 Drink-driving: the facts

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The last time you went out drinking, did you jump into your car within a few hours, to commute to work? All too many drivers stay out on the lash until the early hours, get a few hours’ sleep and then drive to work.

Many drivers think that is no matter how much you drink, as long as you grab a bit of sleep the alcohol in your system will magically disappear. But of course it doesn’t, which is why so many drivers lose their licence as a result of ‘morning after’ drink-driving.

The UK has the lowest rate of alcohol-related deaths in Europe; around one in six fatalities on our roads is because of driving over the legal limit. But despite this the penalties are severe. Drink-driving is easily one of the most serious offences in the book, with an automatic 12-month ban for first-time offenders. Get caught a second time and you’ll be getting the bus for at least three years.

Drink survival guide

  • Don’t try to calculate if you’ve consumed enough to tip you over the drink-drive limit.
  • If you drive to a party and drink more than you expected to, book yourself a taxi or arrange for a friend or family member to collect you.
  • If you’re involved in a crash you’ll be breathalysed – don’t risk it.
  • If you know someone has been drinking, don’t let them drive – and definitely don’t let them give you a lift home.

The Law

Driving, or attempting to drive while affected by drink, or with excess drink in your system leads to a minimum 12-month ban, which becomes three years if you’re caught twice within 10 years. You can face either six months in the slammer or a £5,000 fine, and in more serious cases, both. You’ll also have between three and 11 points slapped on your licence.

Too much alcohol means anything over 80mg of booze per 100ml of blood, something which would be tested at the station after an initial breath test. Refusal to provide a sample, unless there’s medical proof that you can’t, has the same punishments as providing samples above the legal limit – although driving bans can often be six months longer, as an extra deterrent for trying to pull a fast one. Kill someone due to drink driving and you face ten years behind bars and an unlimited fine.

Breathalyser myths

  • Strong coffee will sober me up:Caffeine does not sober you up. Only time will reduce the amount of booze in your system.
  • Bigger people can handle their alcohol better:Body size can affect the rate at which alcohol is absorbed, but individual metabolism, the amount of rest you’ve had and when you last ate are key factors too.
  • Drink lots of water:A breathalyser measures the alcohol in the air in your lungs, so how much water you drink has no effect at all.

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