On average, 3,000 people are killed or injured in drink-drive collisions each year in the UK.
If you're convicted of drink driving, your life will change. You will:
- have a criminal record
- be disqualified from driving - for at least a year
- have to pay more for your vehicle insurance, as your premium will increase
- have difficulty hiring a car for the next 10 years
- need to re-sit your driving test once your disqualification period is over
These things will happen if you're simply caught and convicted for drink driving. If you kill or injure someone while drink driving, the consequences for you will be much worse.
The legal limit
The legal limit is 35 micrograms of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath, or 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood. But any amount of alcohol can affect your ability to drive safely, and alcohol affects people differently. So the only way to make sure that you're under the limit is to not drink any alcohol if you're going to drive.
What is a unit of alcohol?
One unit usually means:
- a small glass of wine
- a measure of spirit
- half a pint of normal strength beer
However, the strength of alcohol in various drinks differs hugely - and the measure you pour yourself at home is likely to be very different from the measure you receive in a pub. This all means that it's very difficult to determine how many units you've had - the only way to tell for sure is to take a breath test.
Again, the only way to make sure you're under the limit is to not drink any alcohol if you're going to drive.
How long after drinking is it safe to drive?
Are you legally safe to drive the morning after drinking? Take a Saturday night's drinking:
- at midnight you may have 200mg in the blood (2 and 1/2 times the legal driving limit)
- at 7.30 the next morning, you still have 90mg - so you're still over the limit
- by lunchtime, you'll have about 20mg - under the legal limit, but this is still enough to affect your ability to drive
It's impossible to get alcohol out of your system quickly; neither coffee nor a shower will help speed up the process. It just takes time.
You can be breath tested at any time of day or night, on any day of the year. For example:
- if you're involved in a collision - whether it is your fault or not - you will be required to provide a breath sample
- if you're attempting to drive a vehicle - this might mean you're trying to start a car, for example
- if you're in charge of a vehicle - this means that the driver is in the vehicle even if it's not moving
- if you commit a moving traffic offence - such as speeding, failing to stop for a red light or not wearing a seat belt
- if you fail to stop after a collision -we can trace your vehicle and request a breath sample, even if you had left the vehicle
Download Drink Drive poster