I moved my car the morning after a party. It ruined my life’

There has been an increase in the calls for the drink driving limit to be reduced in the UK and I first talked about it here.  Here’s a snapshot of some of the headlines from May:

drinkDriving

This particular article in The Telegraph caught my eye though because (a) it is from a female drivers perspective and (b) it’s about the morning after drinking risk which I now know with hindsight that I flirted with on a regular basis.

Police are calling for the legal drink-driving limit to be halved, amid concerns over the number of female drink-drivers.

The change would mean drivers could be over the limit after just one pint, in line with changes introduced in Scotland last year.

Levels are not falling quickly enough, according to the Police Federation of England and Wales, who want to crack down on female drink-drivers.

A police representative told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme that the message isn’t “getting through” to women’s drivers. Over the last decade, the number of men caught drink-driving has halved, while the number of women was “about the same”.

Research shows women now account for 17 per cent of convictions, compared with just nine per cent in 1998. Academics suggest the drastic increase is partly because women think they are less likely to be stopped by the police.

Holly*, 34, was one of those women – until she was arrested for drink-driving 10 years ago.

Here she tells Telegraph Wonder Women what happened:

It was back when I was 24 years old. I’d been at a friend’s house party where we’d been drinking all night and into the early hours. In the morning, I had to move my car off the driveway to let someone else get theirs out.

It was about 8am and I’d been asleep for two hours. I did feel like I was still a bit drunk but I wasn’t really thinking about it properly. I shouldn’t have done it really. But I got in the car thinking, it’s only around the corner, I’ll be fine.

Only, as I moved the car round the corner, I was pulled over by a policeman and breathalysed. It showed I was more than three times over the legal limit.

I was horrified. I was taken to the police station where I had to do another breathalyser test, have my fingerprints taken and was put in a cell for a few hours. I remember crying and couldn’t believe that this had happened. When I moved my car, the thought that I could be over the limit just hadn’t occurred to me.

I don’t think I thought about it rationally. Or you think it won’t happen to you, you’re not going to hurt anybody. I know I felt tired and groggy but because I’d had some sleep and I’d stopped drinking about 1am, I thought I’d slept it off.

I wouldn’t have got in the car and driven 20 miles down the road. But I thought I’d be alright to drive around the corner. When the police officer came over, I didn’t even think he was going to say anything about drink driving. He’d seen me get into the car in my pyjamas without any shoes on, so I thought that was the problem.

When he said, ‘do you know why I have pulled you over?’ I said, ‘because I’m not wearing shoes’. He laughed but I genuinely thought that’s what it was. I wasn’t stumbling around drunk. I’d never done it before. I’m not a person that takes massive risks.

I carried the shame for months

Then he asked me whether I’d been drinking. My first thought was ‘no, of course not’ as it had been hours since my last alcoholic drink and at the time I had no idea that alcohol could stay in my system for that long. But the breathalyser test proved otherwise.

The next few months were the hardest part. It was the shame and embarrassment of telling my parents and work. I was worried; I was scared for two to three months before I had to go to court. I was still carrying the shame.

You try and justify it to yourself but as soon as people know, the details are irrelevant. You have drunk driven and you have broken the law. It was so hard – I felt like everyone was judging me. Maybe they weren’t, but I would have judged people for drink driving, so I felt like they were doing the same.

I even had to go to a tribunal at work. I could have got the sack. In the end, I was put on probation for two years. When my case went to court, I was eventually banned from driving for three years, given a £350 fine and received three points on my driving licence.

My friends still do it

As part of my punishment I also opted to take part in a drink drive education course, which taught me how to work out how much it’s safe to drink before driving. If I hadn’t have done the drink driving course and learnt how long alcohol still stays in your system, I probably would have done it again. Now I won’t drive home the next morning, or drop my friends off. You think, after a good night’s sleep I’ll be alright, but that’s not the case.

I know lots of my friends do it because they don’t know there’s still alcohol in their system. I tell them, ‘you know, you’ll still have booze in you’, and they say, ‘don’t be ridiculous’. They think I’m being mumsy, or trying to be their parent.

When we go to Glastonbury festival, all my friends drink the day before and all that night, and I say, ‘you’re going to drive home for six hours’. I wouldn’t preach to anybody but all I can say is, don’t forget you drank the day before. I normally end up doing the driving now.

I really think that this should be part of driving lessons. You do under the bonnet stuff, but I don’t recall getting tested on alcohol limits. There should be more focus on the effect of drink and drugs before you pass your test.

It affects your whole life

Even now, 10 years later, it still makes an impact on where I go on holiday. You can’t just forget about it. You have a constant reminder. When it comes to job applications, holidays… everything in your life can be messed up because of that one act.

It affects your whole life. When I went travelling it was hell because of my criminal record. I could have been refused entry into other countries. It’s an inconvenience you put on yourself. This is what people need to hear.

Saying you can kill someone, or hurt someone in an accident, sounds dramatic. It sounds so far from reality. It’s like when you smoke you can’t see you’re killing yourself inside. But there are other consequences that inconvenience your life and your parents’ lives. You need to remember that.

8 thoughts on “I moved my car the morning after a party. It ruined my life’

  1. Hmmm 🙁 yeah, nobody seems to think about the booze that’s in the blood in the morning. I’ve never driven a car with booze in my blood – that is where I had my bounderies. Also, I did never want to own a car because I did not know if I would be able to keep my boundaries up…. I have always rented cars when in need. But all of that is easier said in The Netherlands where everything is small and flat and biking is THE way of transportation, specifically in the city.
    And yes, I do have judgements about people driving drunk. Can’t get past them. Not sure if I want that either. To me it is setting the world up for carrying the possible leathal consequences of my addiction. Like I did with my lack of admin yesterday, but worse.
    I’m thinking about the message not getting through to women: maybe this is like female badasses. There is this general idea that women don’t get into crime easily, but when they do, the tend to do it thoroughly. So maybe the man which used to get caught were a mix of drinkers but mostly normies trying to get away with it or those unaware of the actual dangers. And maybe the women getting caught were the real heavy drinkers and still are? And then there is that thing where women think that one bottle of wine contains 4-5 glasses = > 4-5 units. Which, you and I know to be not true. 🙁 While man drink beer and beer goes into clearer glasses which equal units.
    xx, Feeling

    1. Don’t know why feeling regarding women and drink driving. I think we generally drink more here and it is so normalised that they assume they’ll be okay. I don’t know if it is conscious or unconscious decision xx

  2. In the States, the legal BAC is 0.08. I don’t know the conversion to determine how that compares with the limits in the UK.

    At least over here, it’s repeat offenders with a BAC of .15 or more – seriously drunk – who are responsible for the vast majority of alcohol-caused accidents. People with a BAC under .10, by and large, are not the ones causing mayhem. Under .08, even less so. And by the time you get to .05, the risk of an accident becomes negligible.

    Lowering the legal limit for drunk driving means that people whose driving is not noticeably impaired, and who most likely would have gotten home safe and sound, would be treated nearly the same as those whose breath could catch on fire.

    I think we should punish the hell out of the truly drunk drivers who threaten everyone’s safety, but going after the guy who had a few beers watching the game is a waste of police and judicial resources.

    1. Thanks for sharing the US position and your views SC. Not sure how UK and US BAC and limits compare either. I think it will happen here because there is now a disparity between us and Scotland which confuses things at the border. We’ll see.

  3. I know of two people who were involved in accidents, who were not at fault in the accidents, but were intoxicated, and were charged with drunk driving! Also, just last week in my area a man was drink driving and a car turned in front him, causing an accident, and two young girls were killed. Anything can happen! Just not worth the risk! xx

    1. I read about the second accident Lori – hen party in a stretch limo right? Tragic 🙁 xx

      1. That one, and another one, a family on vacation, two young girls, 9 and 11 I believe. 🙁

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