So this story was covered by The Guardian in mid December when plenty of folks were out on works Xmas shin-digs so the number of potentially hungover motorists driving was higher than usual. That said this is a real and ongoing concern of mine that it isn’t the night before when drinking that we should be mindful of getting behind the wheel but the morning after. Lots of garages have started selling self breathalyser kits and in France it’s been law since 2012 to have one in your car.
Thousands of hungover drivers are risking a criminal conviction, the Department for Transport has warned, with 5,500 people in the average year failing a breath test in the morning.
The DfT said 740 accidents involving drink driving in 2013 took place the morning after a night out.
Research conducted for its Christmas drink-driving campaign, Think, suggested that one in three drivers were unaware they could be unfit to drive the morning after drinking as little as four pints of beer or glasses of wine – although 58% of drivers said they would take the risk after drinking that amount.
The road safety minister, Andrew Jones, said: “Getting behind the wheel after a big night out is a risk that drivers just should not take. Not only are they putting themselves in danger, they also endanger others and their actions can destroy lives.”
Police said that while most drivers were now aware about the risks of drinking or drug taking before getting behind the wheel, fewer thought about the following day.
Suzette Davenport, the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead, said: “The majority of drivers are aware that driving whilst impaired by drink or drugs is not worth the risk, but some do not think about how they will get home or to work the morning after a night out.”
Over the last three years, an annual average of 5,500 breath test failures were recorded between the hours of 6am and midday in Britain, the DfT said.
With the human body taking an hour on average to break down one unit of alcohol, it could take as long as 12 hours for the alcohol from four pints of premium lager or four large glasses of wine to leave the system.
Penalties for drink driving are strict, including a minimum 12-month driving ban, a criminal record, a possible fine and up to six months in prison, as well as an endorsement on the driver’s licence for 11 years.
A recent response to a Freedom of Information request by the DVLA gives up-to-date figures on the number of people disqualified from driving after being convicted of a drink driving offence. The response was made on 5 November 2015 but only published on 8 January 2016 | Russell Webster, UK
So although Xmas is a dim and distant memory the question about whether you should drive the morning after a big night boozing is not and remains important all year round – like Valentine’s which is only a few days away!
PS If you want to see the nifty chart that illustrates how long between drinking and driving (depending on how much you’ve drank) I featured it in this post here.