Motorists should not drive with “any” alcohol in their systems, argues road safety charity Brake. Why? Because even small amounts of alcohol can affect “reaction times, judgement and co-ordination”. Clearly bad news. Furthermore, it is “impossible” for drivers to assess their impairment because it “creates a false sense of confidence” meaning that motorists are “more inclined to take risks”. The road safety charity also argues there is “no way of knowing exactly how long it takes to sober up” but - as a rough guide - “allow at least one hour to absorb alcohol and at least one hour for each unit consumed”. Let us consider their example. If three pints of strong lager contain nine units of alcohol and a motorist stops drinking at 11pm, it could take until at least 9am to be fully sober. It could, however, take longer depending on weight, gender, etc. Brake's key message is therefore:
- Never drink any amount of alcohol if you’re driving.
- Never drink if you’re driving early the next morning.
- Plan ahead to make sure you can get home safely when going out for the night (by) using public transport, booking a taxi, or having a designated driver who sticks to soft drinks.
- Take responsibility for others: never buy a drink for someone who is driving.
During 2011 in the UK, one in seven road deaths occurred when motorists were over the legal limit, according to Department for Transport figures. Some of these were the mornings after heavy drinking sessions when motorists might have assumed the alcohol had dispersed. As such, in 2011, The West Mercia Police arrested 55% of its drink-drivers between 5am and midday. Also, 13% of last year's national arrests were during this seven-hour period. These facts came courtesy of a freedom of information request by Autoglass, and are based on the responses of twenty-six of the forty-three Police Services.
According to Brake, UK drink-drive casualty figures decreased significantly during the eighties but rose between 1993 and 2002 (14,980 to 20,140). These included deaths, serious injuries, and minor injuries. The figure then fell to 9,990 in 2011 but drink-driving remains, Brake argue, “one of the biggest killers”. According to Home Office figures from 2002, men received nine out of ten convictions for dangerous driving while under the influence of alcohol. Furthermore, The Department for Transport has revealed that those aged seventeen to twenty-four have the highest level of alcohol related incidents per-distance travelled. A Brake survey of one-thousand motorists also proved that fifty per-cent have driven with at least some alcohol in their systems within the past twelve months, and that twenty-eight per-cent have consumed a significant amount then driven the following morning. As such, a concerning percentage might have been unsafe to drive.
The legal limit in the UK is 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood. The consequences of exceeding this can be severe. As such a drunk in charge of a vehicle faces up to three months imprisonment, a £2,500 fine, and a ban. This offence relates to those in or around vehicles with the intention of driving. In contrast, a motorist who drives or attempts to drive can receive up to six months imprisonment, a £5,000 fine, and a twelve month ban. This increases to three years if it is the second conviction within a decade. Most seriously, someone who causes death by dangerous driving while under the influence could receive a fourteen year prison sentence, an unlimited fine, and a two year ban. Furthermore, failing to provide a breath, blood or urine sample for analysis can lead to a six month sentence, a £5,000 fine, and a twelve month ban. Better be safe and steer-off booze, then.
By Stephen Turvil, motoring.co.uk
Thu, 06 Dec 2012
: 10th Dec 2012 13:51:00
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