Alcohol and Drink Driving Legal Alcohol Limit

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1 The facts about... Alcohol and Drink Driving Legal Alcohol Limit Five key things you need to know

2 In 2012, 1,200 people were seriously injured when a driver was over the legal alcohol limit. As a result, 280 people were killed in drink driving accidents (1). These figures are too high but accidents involving drink driving have decreased hugely over the last 35 years. Deaths and serious injuries related to drink driving have fallen by more than three-quarters since 1979 (2). 1,2 Department for transport website. Reported Road Casualties in Great Britain: 2012 Annual Report. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/upl oads/attachment_data/file/245383/rrcgb pdf

3 drinkaware.co.uk 01 1 What's the law on drink driving? What's the law on drink driving in England and Wales? In England and Wales, the alcohol limit for drivers is 80 milligrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood, 35 microgrammes per 100 millilitres of breath or 107milligrammes per 100 millilitres of urine. In most other European countries, the limit is less, usually 50 milligrammes per 100 millilitres of blood (3). What is the drink driving limit in Scotland? From December 5th 2014 the alcohol limit for drivers in Scotland will be reduced from 80 milligrams of alcohol in every 100 millilitres of blood to 50 milligrams of alcohol in every 100 millilitres of blood (4). The breath alcohol equivalent will be reduced from 35 micrograms of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath to 22 micrograms of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath (5). The Scottish Government say they have changed their drink drive limit to bring Scotland in line with most other European countries, to save lives and make Scotland s roads safer References Legislation.gov.uk website. The drink drive limit. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/drink-drive-limit Don t Risk It website. The law. Available at: Don t Risk It website. FAQs. Available at:

4 drinkaware.co.uk 01 2 How much can I drink and stay under the limit? How much can I drink and stay under the limit? There is no fool-proof way of drinking and staying under the limit. The amount of alcohol you would need to drink to be considered over the driving limit varies from person to person. It depends on: (6) your weight your gender (men tend to process alcohol faster than women) your metabolism the type and amount you're drinking your current stress levels whether you've eaten recently age (younger people tend to process alcohol more slowly) Even small amounts of alcohol can affect your ability to drive so the only safe advice is to avoid any alcohol if you are driving. 6 References Think! website Drink driving. Available at:

5 drinkaware.co.uk 02 3 How alcohol affects driving Many of the functions that we depend on to drive safely are affected when we drink alcohol: the brain takes longer to receive messages from the eye processing information becomes more difficult instructions to the body's muscles are delayed resulting in slower reaction times. You can also experience blurred and double vision, which affects your ability to see things clearly while you are driving. And you re more likely to take potentially dangerous risks because you can act on urges you normally repress (7). 7 C. Fernando Valenzuela. Alcohol and Nerotrasmitter Interactions, Alcohol Health & Research World. Available at: df

6 drinkaware.co.uk 03 4 How would I be tested for drink driving? Even small amounts of alcohol affect your ability to drive and the only safe advice is to avoid any alcohol if you are driving. If the police want to investigate whether you are over the drink driving limit, they will carry out a screening breath test at the roadside. To do this, they will use a breathalyser. If you fail this test, or if they have other grounds to believe that your driving was impaired through drink, you will be arrested and taken to a police station. At the station you will need to provide two more breath specimens into a complex breathalyser, called an evidential breath testing instrument. The lower of the two readings is used to decide whether you are above the drink driving limit. If the evidential breath sample is up to 40% over the limit you have the right to replace your evidential breath specimen with blood or urine - the police officer will decide which test you will have. If your evidential samples show that you are over the limit, you will be charged. The police can carry out a breathalyser test if you have committed a moving traffic offence (such as banned turns) been involved in an accident, or have given the police grounds to believe you are over the limit. The police are allowed to stop any vehicle at their discretion, and will often set up drink driving check points over periods such as Christmas and New Year s Eve.

7 drinkaware.co.uk 04 5 What s the punishment if I get caught drink driving? Anyone caught over the legal alcohol limit when driving will be banned from driving for at least 12 months, and fined up to 5,000. You can also be given between three to 11 penalty driving points. And you could be sent to prison for up to six months. Imprisonment, the period of disqualification, size of fine and penalty points depend on the seriousness of the offence (8). If you re caught drink driving more than once in a 10 year period, you ll be banned for at least three years. 8 References Directgov website. Penalties and the Highway Code. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/highway-code-penalties/penaltytable

8 drinkaware.co.uk 05 How to ensure you don't drink and drive: A Arrange within your group of friends who's going to be the designated driver. A designated driver is the person who abstains from alcohol on a night out so they can drive the rest of their group of friends home safely. B If you live somewhere with good public transport links, take advantage of them. If you re planning on staying out beyond the last train, tube or bus, make sure you ve got a couple of taxi numbers. C If you have no option but to drive, stick to zero alcohol beers, mocktails or standard soft drinks. B Not every night out has to involve a bar or pub Book a table at a restaurant or try one of our alcohol-free nights on the town ideas.

9 We ve got the answers at drinkaware.co.uk Advice The government advises that people should not regularly drink more than the daily unit guidelines of 3-4 units of alcohol for men (equivalent to a pint and a half of 4% beer) and 2-3 units of alcohol for women (equivalent to a 175 ml glass of 13% wine). Regularly means drinking every day or most days of the week. Other useful contacts For the facts on alcohol and to keep track of your units through our MyDrinkaware tool, visit the Drinkaware website drinkaware.co.uk Your GP can help you figure out if you should make any changes to your drinking, and offer help and advice. If you re concerned about someone s drinking, or your own, Drinkline runs a free, confidential helpline. Call To find out about first aid courses in your area contact the St John Ambulance on or via their website 3-4 units daily 2-3 units daily Drinkaware is an independent alcohol education charity Ref: June 2013

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