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Drink-driving laws and limits

Because of its potential effects the Government has laid down strict laws regarding alcohol and driving.

Alcohol is often an integral part of our daily lives; it is consumed by a large majority of the population that is legally entitled to do so. It gives pleasure to millions of people and acts as a social lubricant. It is used to celebrate the most important events in life, to enjoy the company of friends.

Taken in moderation it is part of a healthy lifestyle. But alcohol is a drug, which has potential dangers and problems. It is a depressant, and can alter the way we think and behave. Like all drugs it is possible to become addicted to it.

Drink-drive limits

Image of wine

Because of its potential effects, the government has laid down strict laws regarding alcohol and driving.

The legal limits of alcohol relating to driving are 35 microgrammes per 100 millilitres in breath, 80 milligrammes per 100 millilitres in blood and 107 milligrammes per 100 millilitres in urine.

These limits can be very difficult for individuals to judge or understand as so many variables affect the art of absorption and the reading. The only safe limit for driving in zero.

Don’t believe rumours about how much you can drink and still be legal. Even if you are under the limit you can still be impaired.

After drinking, when is it safe to drive?

Again rumours and myths about cold showers, black coffee and exercise are just rumours. The only thing that will reduce the level of alcohol in your system is time.

You can’t calculate your alcohol limit - so don’t try.

How much can you drink to stay under the limit?

There is no failsafe guide as to how much you can drink and stay under the limit. The amount and type of alcoholic drink and your weight, sex, age and metabolism will all play their part.

The quantity of alcohol in a half-pint of beer is approximately the same as in a pub measure of port/sherry or a small glass of wine. But:

  • many beers and wines are stronger than average drinks poured at home are usually more generous than pub measures
  • cocktails and alcopops are very strong; their high alcoholic content is often masked by the taste of fruit juice.
  • Any amount of alcohol will affect your judgement, starting with your judgement about whether you should have another drink.

At twice the current legal limit you are at least 50 times more likely to be involved in a fatal collision. The amount of alcohol in four pints of ordinary beer will take 8-9 hours to clear the system.

It is quite possible to fail a test the ‘morning after’ when you may feel perfectly OK to drive.

The consequences of drink driving apart from the obvious of death or serious injury are always serious. If you have an accident after drinking you will never know if it would have been avoided if you have not had a drink. The very least that can happen is a minimum of 12 months driving ban (not much fun in a rural county!) the probability of a fairly large fine, increased insurance costs, difficulty in hiring vehicles and criminal record - for drink driving is indeed a criminal offence.

Remember: the only safe limit is zero.

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Last updated: 24 March 2017

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