With Christmas just around the corner, the next few days may pass in a blur of office parties, Christmas meals with friends and drinking a good glass (or two) of hot mulled wine under the Christmas tree. If you drive, you’ll also have got used to being bombarded with anti-drink driving campaigns over the years. Every Christmas a series of adverts is aired in which you’re told that if you get caught drink driving your world will fall apart. Don’t get caught and the consequences could be much worse; there are 240 deaths each year due to drink driving.

Despite this high-profile campaigning, each year around 100,000 drivers lose their licence because they’ve been caught driving over the limit. The result is an instant driving ban for at least 12 months – but that’s just the start of it. So this Christmas – and indeed all year round – don’t take any chances if you’re driving, because it’s just not worth it.

To help you stay safe this Christmas, we’ve put together a few facts and tips:

The units add up

Alcohol is measured in units, and the below could surprise you. From a health angle, the NHS recommends that men should not regularly drink more than 3-4 units of alcohol a day, and for women no more than 2-3 units a day, however even just one drink can affect your driving ability.

  • 25ml (single shot) of 40% spirit (eg. Vodka, whisky) = 1 unit
  • Pint of 4% beer = 2 units
  • 250ml glass of 15% wine = 4 units
  • Pint of 5.5% cider = 3 units
  • 250ml RTD (eg. WKD) = 2 units
  • Bottle of 12% wine = 9 units

Over the Limit

The legal blood alcohol concentration limit for driving in the UK is 80mg of alcohol for every 100ml of blood, however there’s no proven way to judge if you’re over the limit by taking note of how much you’ve drunk, as many factors can contribute to how alcohol affects each individual – the only way you can be sure you’re safe is to consume zero alcohol.

Even if you’re legally allowed to drive after drinking alcohol, you may still be at risk of harming both yourself and other road users. Drivers with as little as 20-50mg of alcohol in their blood are at least three times more likely to die in a crash than those with no alcohol in their blood, as proved by Richard Allsop.

Just the None

Think just the one drink can’t harm? Even if you feel sober, just one drink can make you less safe behind the wheel. The effects of alcohol on the body include:

  • Reduced reaction times
  • Reduced judgement and coordination
  • Reduced vision
  • Reduced skills in judging of speed and distance
  • Increased false sense of confidence leading to risk taking
  • Increased feeling of drowsiness

The Morning After the Night Before

Even if you’ve had a good sleep in between drinking the night before and driving to work the next morning, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the alcohol will have left your system and you’ll be safe to drive.

A rough guide for judging how long it takes for alcohol to leave your system was created by NHS Choices and is:

  • One hour for the alcohol to be absorbed
  • One hour more for each unit consumed

Feeling ‘sober’ isn’t a reliable guide to knowing whether you can drive or not, and drinking coffee, eating a meal or bracing a cold shower won’t make the alcohol leave your body any faster!

How to get through the Christmas Season

With the police watching the roads carefully, how can you make sure you’re not caught out this Christmas? The obvious way is to stay off the booze altogether or to drink a minimal amount before getting behind the wheel. Use a taxi, elect a designated driver within your group or ask someone to drive you – fail to do one of these and you’ll feel the impact potentially for years.

How can I spot a drunk driver on the road?

Unfortunately, staying sober doesn’t guarantee your safety, and taking caution against other drivers who may be breaking the rules is paramount. Hilley Law lay out the signs that could indicate a drunk driver, so you can alert the police and take extra caution.

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