Drink Driving Information and Facts

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HISTORY OF DRINK DRIVING LAWS IN THE UK
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DRINK DRIVING POLICE PROCEDURE
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THE DESIGNATED DRIVER SCHEME
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If you intend to have a drink - DO NOT DRIVE - PERIOD.

There is no safe limit of alcohol that you can consume and then drive. Each persons body reacts differently to alcohol. The speed at which alcohol is absorbed into your system (and how quickly your system gets rid of it) depends on a large number of factors, including your sex, weight, metabolism, health and when you last ate.

It is hard to predict how long it will take to sober up after drinking. Drinking coffee, eating, sleeping and showering DO NOT help you sober up any faster, it just takes time.

Do not drink and drive

Too many people are killed or seriously injured on our roads each year in drink driving related accidents. Statistics estimate that around 3000 are killed or seriously injured each year. Motorcyclists have the highest fatality rate of all road users – with current figures showing an increase in young drivers killed when over the legal limit.

If you’re planning to use your car or motorbike or any other vehicle, then don’t put yourself, others or your driving licence at risk by drinking and driving. Always plan your route home by appointing a designated non-drinking driver or by taking a taxi, train or bus.

KEY FACTS
  • On average 3,000 people are killed or seriously injured each year in drink drive collisions.
  • Nearly one in six of all deaths on the road involve drivers who are over the legal alcohol limit.
  • Approximately half of convicted drink drivers have blood alcohol levels in excess of 150mg%. Around 12 per cent of convicted drink drivers are convicted of a second offence within ten years.
  • Drinking and driving occurs across a wide range of age groups but particularly among young men aged 17-29 in both casualties and positive breath tests following a collision. The Government's most recent drink drive campaigns aim to target this group.
  • Drink drive accidents can be caused by drivers of all ages, but the highest rates of drink drive accidents per 100,000 licence holders occur in young men aged up to 34, particularly the age group 20-24.
  • 40% of convicted drink drivers have previous convictions for other types of offences, and drink drivers are twice as likely to have a criminal record as a member of the general population of the same age and gender
  • The latest provisional figures from 2004, show that some 590 people were killed in crashes in which a driver was over the legal limit, 2,350 were seriously injured and 14,050 were slightly injured.
  • If you think you won't get caught, please be aware that more than half a million breath tests are carried out each year and on average 100,000 are found to be positive.
  • Alcohol tends to make you feel over-confident and more likely to take risks when driving, this increases the danger posed to all other road users and of course yourself.
  • There is no fail-safe guide as to how to stay under the legal alcohol limit or how much you can drink and still drive safely.
  • If you've been out drinking, you may still be affected by alcohol the next day. You may feel OK, however you may still be unfit to drive or over the legal alcohol limit the morning after the night before.
  • Driving or attempting to drive whilst above the legal limit or unfit through drink carries a maximum penalty of 6 months' imprisonment, a fine of up to £5,000 and a minimum 12 months driving ban.
  • Being in charge of a vehicle whilst over the legal limit or unfit through drink could result in 3 months' imprisonment plus a fine of up to £2,500 and a driving ban.
  • Causing death by careless driving when under the influence of drink or drugs carries a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison, a minimum 2 year driving ban and a requirement to pass an extended driving test before the offender is able to drive legally again.
  • An endorsement for a driving with excess alcohol remains on a driving licence for 11 years, this means it will be 11 years before a convicted driver will have a "clean" driving licence.
  • Drink driving is a CRIMINAL OFFENCE

DRINK DRIVING SURVEY

An omnibus survey was carried out by the home office to explore the prevalence and frequency of driving after drinking alcohol.

  • Nearly half (44%) of all drivers in the Omnibus Survey had driven after drinking some amount of alcohol in the previous year. One in eight drivers (12%) had driven after drinking what they believed was an ‘over the limit’ amount of alcohol in the previous year.
  • Young men were the most likely to believe they had driven whilst ‘over the limit’. Over one quarter of 16- to 29-year-olds admitted to driving whilst ‘over the limit’ in the previous year. Frequent drinkers were also more likely to have driven whilst ‘over the limit’.
  • One in eight (13%) of all respondents (drivers and non-drivers) had been a passenger when they thought the driver was ‘over the limit’ in the previous year.
  • People who admitted to driving whilst ‘over the limit’ often explained their behaviour by stating that they ‘felt safe to drive’ at the time, despite recognising then (or later) that they were ‘over the limit’.
  • Attitudes towards drink-driving, such as the risk to road safety, random breath testing and the desire for harsher penalties, were similar regardless of the level of alcohol people reported drinking before driving.
  • The majority of respondents (74%) said they wanted harsher penalties for drivers caught over the limit. However, when given specific scenarios, they frequently chose a more lenient option (than those typically used), particularly for first-time offenders and those who were only slightly over the limit.
  • Half of all respondents thought a person was unlikely to be caught by the police even if they drove whilst over the limit once a week for a year.

Source: The Home Office

How does alcohol affect driving skills?

After drinking, the brain works inefficiently, taking longer to receive messages from the eye; processing information becomes more difficult and instructions to the muscles are delayed. Alcohol can slow down reaction time by 10 to 30 per cent. It also reduces ability to perform two or more tasks at the same time.

Alcohol reduces the ability to see distant objects and night vision can be reduced by 25 per cent. Blurred and double vision can also occur. Ability to perceive what is happening at the roadside is weakened. Loss of peripheral vision could be crucial. Alcohol may also create a sense of overconfidence, with the result that people are prepared to take greater risks.

Even when sober, young drivers and riders are more accident prone than older, more experienced drivers. Their lower tolerance to alcohol further increases their accident risk. The vulnerability of a young person to the effects of alcohol is shown by the lower average blood alcohol levels of young drink driving offenders compared with older offenders. The same pattern is found in drivers who are killed. For young people accident risk increases after one drink; after two it doubles and after five it can have increased ten fold.

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