Are you sure you’re safe to drive the morning after?

Drink-drive limit, the morning after
Drink-drive limit, the morning after

As the Christmas party season gets into full swing, a survey has revealed Lancashire’s drink-driving habits – with shocking results.

The survey lifts the lid on the region’s boozy behaviour, including revellers knowingly driving over the limit to believing that there are techniques for sobering up more quickly.

“In the same way that everyone loses weight at different rates, we all process alcohol differently.”

Alcohol safety expert Suzannah Robin

In the survey, conducted by law firm Jefferies Solicitors, more than a third of people living in Lancashire (36 per cent) admit to having knowingly driven over the limit, and almost a quarter (24 per cent) have done it on more than one occasion.

Confusion over quantifying alcohol measures also arose, as 41 per cent admit to finding the ‘units’ measure unclear, and 32 per cent believe that there are techniques to sober up more quickly.

Incorrectly, these myths included drinking coffee or water, getting some air, and having a cold shower, the survey revealed.

Some respondents (23 per cent) go for a drink after work and worryingly, of these, 35 per cent drive home afterwards – figures that could drastically increase during the festive season.

What’s worse, more than two-thirds of respondents (64 per cent) who work in a hands-on environment admit to consuming alcohol the night before going to work and then operating machinery, posing risks to themselves and others.

Michael Jefferies, managing director of Jefferies Solicitors, warns: “During the festive season, along with all other times of the year, it’s very important that people take extra care when driving on the roads, particularly if they’re heading out for a drink.

“Unless you’re clued up about units, the safest way to travel around is with a designated driver or taxi.

“We take on an increasing number of motoring offence claims related to drink-driving around this time of year – the types of accidents that can easily be avoided, including those resulting in serious injuries or fatalities.”

Zero tolerance

But some safety bosses say that being ‘clued up’ doesn’t go far enough, and believe that a zero tolerance approach should be adopted when it comes to the drink-drive limit.

Following Scotland’s announcement in December last year to reduce the drink-drive limit to 50mg Blood Alcohol Content (BAC), a figure which mirrors much of Europe, the rest of the UK is still seriously lagging behind with its current allowance of 80mg BAC – a scary one and a half times higher than the zero tolerance figure.

In 2014 alone, alcohol accounted for 5,650 accidents and 8,320 casualties on UK roads, and research has shown that an individual is three times more likely to have a road related accident even after just one drink versus being sober.

Suzannah Robin, sales and training manager at AlcoDigital – the UK’s leading supplier of breathalysers – works with corporate and governmental organisations addressing their alcohol and drug testing needs.

She explains: “Based on the current rate of drink-drive related accidents and casualties in the UK, there is a very strong argument for lowering the UK’s drink-drive limit to ‘zero tolerance’.

“The dangers associated with having alcohol in your system whilst driving have sadly been proven over and over again, so it makes sense that this shouldn’t be acceptable under any circumstances.”

However, she argues simply lowering the drink-drive limit alone may not be enough.

“In France, where the ‘zero tolerance’ drink-drive limit has been in effect for a number of years, all motorists are now legally obliged to keep a breathalyzer in their vehicle so that they can test themselves to ensure they are under the drink-drive limit before driving” she says. “Following its implementation in 2012 the breathalyzer law has made a significant contribution to road safety.

“Even one drink can affect our reaction and co-ordination dramatically, so the only safe limit when driving is zero. France’s breathalyzer law has clearly played a significant part in reinforcing the ‘zero tolerance’ drink-drive limit and improving road safety.”

Even those who take stock of the old adage that one unit of alcohol can be processed in one hour should think again.

Suzannah adds: “Without a breathalyzer it is impossible to know whether you’re back to zero or not.

“In the same way that everyone loses weight at different rates, we all process alcohol differently.

“Without a breathalyzer it is impossible to know whether you’re back to zero or not as there is no set formula or rule for why one person processes alcohol more quickly than another.”

The morning after

Following the release of the Department for Transport’s latest THINK! Drink Drive campaign, which states that ‘a second drink could double your chance of being in a fatal collision’, experts are calling for drivers to be aware of their alcohol levels the morning after drinking and not just immediately after.

Research shows that 20 per cent of the UK’s drink-driving convictions are as a result of ‘morning after’ breath tests.

Suzannah Robin says: “We fully support the latest THINK! Drink Drive campaign and it is absolutely right people should be thinking about the consequences of drinking and driving and the significant difference on safety that two drinks can have versus one.

“However, they also need to consider that even if they don’t drink and drive immediately after consuming alcohol, they may still be affected the following morning.

“If you have been drinking say four or five pints of beer or consumed a bottle of wine during the evening you may not be safe to drive the following morning, even if you think you feel okay.”

She adds: “If you are planning to drive the morning after drinking you should be testing yourself before you get behind the wheel to ensure you are safe to do so.

“Single use breathalyzers are the cheapest and simplest solution available to ensure that you, your friends and family stay safe – particularly the morning after – and are perfect for keeping in a drawer at home, your handbag or the glove box of a car.”

• AlcoDigital’s single use breathalyzers cost £2.99 each from Tesco fuel stations, or online at www.alcodigital.co.uk