None for the road – Myths of drink driving

Blog post posted on 20/05/21 |
Did you know that any amount of alcohol can take you over the limit? It varies from person to person due to age, weight, gender, and metabolism. It also depends on type of alcohol, time of day, hydration, and fatigue levels.

Can you honestly say you are aware of all facts and fiction? Can you therefore make an informed, sensible decision? If in any doubt stick to #Nonefortheroad, read on to find out why this is our recommendation.  

Here are the facts you need to consider. While Drink Driving casualties have dropped over the last few years, they still resulted in nearly 8700 people being killed or injured in 2018.  Think before you take out your vehicle not just the day of drinking but the next 24 hours. Rather than think before you drink, before you drive; think before every trip. 

Richard Gladman, Head of Driving & Riding Standards & Product Development at IAM RoadSmart dispels some of the myths and highlights the lasting effects: -

The morning after – it’s not just the night before that you need to be sensible about and plan. When you get up the next day you’ll need to know if you’re fit to drive. Do you know how long it takes before alcohol is at a low enough level for you to drive? There is a calculator here (for England and Wales) and here (for Scotland), but rather than wait until the next morning, have a look now, you will probably be shocked! Every drop counts and if you don’t count the alcohol, you’ll be counting the cost!

One for the road – even just one drink can put you over the limit. One large glass of wine 250ml (13%) means you need to wait 4 ½ hours before getting behind the wheel. A small one 125ml (15%) is 3 hours. Think about this if you have a lunchtime tipple. 

A cheeky G&T single 35ml (37.5%) will take 2 ½ hours to absorb with a double 70ml meaning you need to wait 4 hours. That means you’ll need to avoid your vehicle for 3 to 4 hours before you can consider approaching it let alone driving. After those 4 hours you’ll be OK, only time counts to absorb that alcohol! Any less and you’ll risk the safety of yourself, others and your licence. 

All pints are not equal – a pint of Lager - Tetley’s (3.6%) will require 3 hours from the second you finish to clear your system. Guinness/Stout (4.1%) 3 ½ hours and Carlsberg
Special Brew Super Strength 500ml (9%) a 5 ½ hour stint! 

Cocktails as you should expect, are easy to drink but have longer lasting effects. Mojito 176ml (11.7%), Margarita 87.5ml (34.3%), Long Island Iced Tea 80ml (31.5%), Sex on the beach 225ml (11.4%) or a Pina Colada 200ml (10%) take 3-4 hours. If you’re indulging in 2 for 1 then, double the time it’s going to take to recover!  Don’t forget alcohol is accurately measured in an establishment as they will be counting the cost. 
Home measures can be more generous and even more lethal.

Anything left in the car? It’s not just driving while drunk you can get caught for. Being ‘in-charge’ of a vehicle extends to having the keys, collecting items from the car, and is not limited to sitting in the driver’s seat with the engine running.  Leave the keys and the vehicle at home! Why take the chance of having to explain your intentions to the court.

Time is the key. Nothing else works, you should never rely on any other method. Showering, sleeping, copious amounts of coffee and even eating won’t suffice. The only thing that counts is time. That’s time from the last drop drunk to it working out of your system.

Eating is a myth - Eating food won’t help you absorb alcohol faster; in fact, it can slow it down. Alcohol is absorbed into the body via the small intestine, not the stomach. So, if you’ve eaten it will take LONGER for the alcohol to reach your intestine. While, eating a kebab or pizza AFTER a night out drinking won’t soak up the alcohol consumed, eating a meal prior to, or alongside drinking, slows the rate in which the alcohol is absorbed.  You might therefore feel better, not get drunk as easily but it doesn’t help with the time factor. That required four-hour time limit could increase to six before you can get back behind the wheel. 

Long last effects – The hangover might be done in a day but the effects of getting caught will last years. A drink driving endorsement DR10 will remain on your licence for up to 11 years. That’s drive or attempt to drive. 1 in 9 drivers are caught the morning after, for failing a breath test. 

While there are legal limits, these differ from England to Scotland. Crossing the border to Scotland from England or Wales changes the limits. Measured in micrograms per 100 millilitres; (Blood is milligrammes per 100 millilitres as is urine) the limits are:

Breath is 35 lowering to 22 for Scotland: Blood 80 lowering to 50 for Scotland and Urine 107 dropping to 67 for Scotland. 

Penalty points – it’s more than the points. A drink driving positive test will lead to a conviction, imprisonment and a ban. It’s also a criminal offence so you’ll have a criminal record which may prohibit you from travel to certain countries. This applies to the USA. 

Travel restrictions – Drunk in charge of a vehicle (remember that’s not limited to driving) could lead to 3-month imprisonment, a £2,500 fine, and a ban. Drink Driving means an unlimited fine and 6-month sentence plus a driving ban of 1 to 3 years. Refusing to provide a specimen or sample you won’t get away with. Causing death while under the influence has the heaviest penalty, as you would expect, of up to 14 years in prison, a two-year ban, unlimited fine and you’ll have to reapply for your licence. The impact on your conscience will no doubt last for a lot longer.  

A sobering thought for all? This is why IAM RoadSmart encourage NONE for the road. The facts will hopefully burst the fiction bubble. 

It’s a complicated process if you consider all of the above. If you’ve had one too many, will you remember what you’ve drunk? Can you make a true calculation before getting behind the wheel? Rather than worrying about how much you can have, think about how long it takes to work out of your system and don’t drink if you must drive. That means from the last drop until the second you approach the vehicle. It could be even longer than 12 hours if you have more than one glass or pint. 

Stick to #Nonefortheroad!