There is much confusion about drink driving laws. Here are the facts:

So much has changed since 1872, when the drink Licensing Act first made it a criminal offence to be drunk whilst in charge of carriages, horses, cattle and steam engines! Whilst the penalty back then was a maximum fine of 40 shillings or the possibility of imprisonment, it’s safe to say that consequences have changed along with the times.

Winter commonly sees an increase in drink drivers. More than 5,500 drivers were caught drink-driving in December 2017, and during the festive season greater emphasis is put on breathalysing and increasing road checks. It’s just not worth the risk of serious injuries to you and others around you because of carelessness, so, we’re here to clear the fog on the current drink driving laws in place.

Current law

The current drink-driving limit for England, Wales and Northern Ireland is 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood, 35 micrograms per 100 millilitres of breath or 107 milligrams per 100 millilitres of urine. The question is, do you know how much alcohol that is?

Unit consumption

Whilst there is guidance on how many units can be consumed, there are so many different factors that need to be considered in order to accurately calculate a true unity measurement to “stay clear”. What are these? The best way to be completely safe is to just avoid alcohol altogether if you’re the designated driver.

The standard measurement is that one unit equals to 10 millilitres or eight grams of pure alcohol. Although, it’s the effect of a single unit that differs between people, based largely on elements such as;

  • Age
  • Weight
  • Type of alcohol
  • Stress-levels
  • Tiredness
  • When and how much food has been consumed

It’s highly likely that even a small amount of alcohol can impact your vision and reaction times, which in turn, affects your ability to dive and increase the likelihood of serious injuries caused by road traffic collisions or accidents.

How long after alcohol can you drive?

There is a well-known piece of research that suggested that the adult body takes about an hour to completely pass one unit of alcohol. This suggestion however is not black and white when it comes to the law.

There is no way to successfully and accurately measure whether alcohol has left your body without breathalysing. Common misconceptions include eating a substantial meal and drinking coffee, but the reality is that sobering up just takes time, and this is why it is highly recommended to abstain from drinking altogether.

Driving the morning after a heavy night is also not recommended. Whilst you may feel as though you’ve slept off the units, the best advice we can give you is to not drive the next day either. The remains of the alcohol will still be in your system, and will be still affecting you, despite your thoughts to the contrary.

Penalties for getting caught

Whilst the official consequence of being caught drink driving is up to the court, the Government has released a guide of what to be expected when above the legal limit or unfit to drive through drink;

Driving or attempting to drive– Six months in prison, unlimited fine (court’s decision) and at least a year driving ban.

Being in charge of a vehicle– Three months in prison, fine up to £2,500 and a possible driving ban.

Refusing to provide a specimen of breath, blood or urine for analysis– Six months in prison, unlimited fine (Court decision), at least a year driving ban.

Causing death by careless driving– 14 years in prison, unlimited fine (court’s decision), at least 2 years driving ban, extended driving test to restore license.

Being caught drink driving could also significantly increase your car insurance premiums with the possibility of some companies refusing to cover you at all. A driving-related criminal conviction can also negatively impact any job application process, as you are required to tick the criminal conviction box. Jobs relying on your ability to drive would also be out of the question and you may also face difficulties travelling to countries such as the US or Australia.

There are currently campaigns looking to reduce the limits to 20mg per 100ml changing the law technically to a near-zero-tolerance policy. Whilst no plans are being made to legally change this currently, the law is under constant review and this development could be happen in the near future with many countries already adopting this for drivers under a certain age such as Germany.

Realistically, having a drink is not worth the risk. Either enjoy the festivities sober or be smart and plan transport. It’s simply not worth the risk to yourself and others.

If you have been a victim of a personal injury linked to drink driving and it was not your fault, please contact Lysander Law for legal representation.