Get wise to the risks of drink driving this Christmas
- Plan how you’ll get home before going out to celebrate with a few drinks, says road safety organisation
- Myth-busters show there are no quick fixes to help you sober up if you’ve had a lot to drink
GEM Motoring Assist is urging drivers to make safety their priority this Christmas and not to take any risks with alcohol. The advice comes as official figures show there has been no decline in the number of people killed through drink-driving in recent years.
By taking one or two simple steps – such as agreeing a designated driver, pre-booking taxis or perhaps arranging to stay the night at a friend’s house – you can remove the temptation to get behind the wheel at the end of an evening out. In so doing, you’re playing your part in making the roads safer.
A total of 250 people were killed in the UK through drink-driving in 2017, up nine per cent on 2016, when there were 230 deaths. It was also the highest number since 2009 when 340 people died. (source: Department for Transport).
Police figures reveal there were 56,000 fewer roadside breath tests carried out in 2017 than in 2016.
GEM road safety office Neil Worth commented: “Please do not think that just because you’re less likely to be stopped and breathalysed by the police that’s its acceptable to drive after drinking alcohol. It absolutely is not, and the figures show that more people are dying as a result of someone’s choice to drink drive than at any time in the past decade.”
The limit… and the law
The legal limit in England and Wales the limit is 35 micrograms (µg) of alcohol in 100ml of breath. In Scotland the limit changed in December 2014 and is now 22µg. This is equivalent to a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.8 in England and Wales and 0.5 in Scotland.
The penalty for a first drink-driving offence is a minimum 12-month ban, a fine of up to £2,500, and even a prison sentence of up to six months. Refusal to provide a specimen carries the same penalty.
Neil Worth continued: “Don’t ever take a risk with drink-driving. If you’re going out for a few drinks, then make arrangements to get home. A £20 taxi fare is definitely worth every penny for your peace of mind. And if you prefer to drive, then stay on soft drinks… or why not organize an alcohol-free night out and avoid any risk altogether?”
I’ll be OK after a good night’s sleep
Not necessarily. Between 15 and 20% failed breath tests are from people who get behind the wheel the morning after drinking alcohol.
One drink means one ‘unit’ of alcohol
Wrong, so counting the glasses you’ve had at the pub, at a party or at home is not a reliable indicator of how much alcohol you have consumed.
Coffee will sober me up after a few drinks
Wrong. You may feel more alert, as coffee is a stimulant and alcohol is a depressant. But you’ll still have the same amount of alcohol in your system, however much coffee you drink.
Eating a heavy meal means I can’t get drunk
Wrong. Food doesn’t prevent alcohol from being absorbed… it can slow the process down, but you’ll still have the alcohol in your system.
I won’t be impaired until I’ve had a lot to drink
Wrong. Even small amounts will impair your judgement. Impairment starts with your very first drink.
I’ll see how I feel later before deciding whether to drive or not
Wrong: plan early how you’re going to get home. Decide where you can safely leave your car, book taxis, or agree that you’ll stay on soft drinks. We tend not to make our wisest decisions when we’re a little merry – or worse.
I can avoid court and go on a course if I get caught, as it would be a first offence
Wrong. There’s a mandatory 12-month ban, plus a hefty fine and a criminal record. Estimates show that a drink-drive conviction costs the average motorist nearly £50,000 when all the immediate costs and longer-term consequences are taken into account.
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