Alcohol and Driving

Had a night out drinking with friends or perhaps a barbeque with family at home and drove early the next morning?

Many people feel comfortable driving after drinking alcohol. Some will drive to a pub and just have the one pint of beer or a glass of wine with a meal before driving home. Others will drink at home and drive sometime later or the following morning. Neither driver would ever think that they were breaking the law but potentially both might be.

While there are legal limits in England and Wales, even a small amount of alcohol may affect someone’s driving ability.

Think about:

  • The inexperienced drinker who feels slightly drunk after 1 pint
  • Drinking alcohol when you feel tired or ill
  • Drinking alcohol in combination with certain medicines or drugs
  • Drinking quickly on an empty stomach

You do not have to be over the legal limit to be unfit to drive. Alcohol affects a person’s judgement of speed, distance and time. It affects their concentration and makes them feel relaxed, even lethargic. It may affect their vision, reflexes and reactions. These are all vitally important elements of driving and critical for road safety.

Alcohol may also remain in a person’s body for several hours, meaning that a person may be ‘over the limit’ or unfit to drive the following day. There are several factors that may affect the rate at which alcohol is eliminated from the human body.

Some examples are:

  • A person’s build or weight
  • Their lifestyle – are they active or inactive
  • Their experience of alcohol
  • Their gender

Some things such as strong black coffee or a cold shower will not have any effect. You cannot speed up the alcohol elimination process – you just have to give it plenty of time before driving.

Here are some simple tips to help keep you safe:

  • Do not use your car if drinking ANY alcohol – simple!
  • Forward plan – book a taxi if you are going out drinking
  • Consider taking the following day or morning off work if it’s a late night
  • If you are in any doubt the following day – don’t drive
  • Think about the consequences of a crash or a conviction on you, your family and friends
  • Drinking at home? Remember home-poured drinks tend to be larger and there’s no closing time
  • Speak to the Road Safety Partnership about our disposable breath testers – they give you a simple indication whether alcohol is still present the following day and may save your life and/or your livelihood