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Drink Driving: What's the Standard for the Average Person?

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Crewe Town Hall

UK drink driving law has some of the severest penalties across the whole of Europe. It is also a little more complicated than we each may think. For example the limits differ in Scotland compared to the rest of the UK (being more in line with European levels and about two-thirds that of the rest of the UK). Individuals differ immensely, and so does the effect that alcohol has on each and every one of us.

There really is no “rule of thumb” that can be properly applied. Given the harsh penalties that are incurred, it is never a wise idea to guess, and try to drink up to the drink drive limit, as this will undoubtedly mean getting it wrong for many people and thus exceeding the threshold. However, a basic understanding of the limits, and indeed alcohol itself, may well mean that you avoid having the need to retain the services of a drink drive solicitor to help you defend yourself in Court. Remember also that driving bans for drink driving are none discretionary, so ask yourself can you really afford to lose your licence?

 

Can’t I have 2 Pints and Drive?

Ever since the first breathalyser was put into use in 1967, society has tried to come up with a standard rule. The limit is 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of breath (50 in Scotland). For an average male, drinking two pints of medium strength (less than 4% abv) lager, would probably result in a negative test result, in England at least. But that, of course, begs the question “what is an average male”?

Alcohol is measured in units of 10ml of alcohol. A half pint of 3.5% lager, a single 25ml measure of spirit, or a 125ml glass of wine will have roughly one unit of alcohol. The absorption into the bloodstream is affected by age, gender, weight, metabolism, and whether it is taken with food, but generally it is absorbed approximately one hour after it has been consumed.

How it is dissipated from the body is measured at roughly one unit per hour. However that is based on an individual consuming up to 20 units per day, so constantly drinking, will keep you above the legal drink drive limit. If you have had 10 pints, then that will take 20 hours before it has left the body – so an early start after a late night will mean that you are over the drink drive limit.

Immediately before driving, anything more than 4 units (less in Scotland) will probably mean being over the limit, and for women it is probably 3. Assuming you finish drinking at 11.30pm, men should consume no more than 10 units and women 7 if they are going to work the next morning, again this will be less in Scotland. This is for an average sized individual. Smaller people should consume less, but larger people, strangely, probably no more.

All of this suggests one thing, there is no standard. There is no rule of thumb that can apply to us all. A friend may be able to drink more than you, and be under the limit whilst you are over. Therefore driving on the same night that you have had any drink is probably unwise. However, knowing how the body deals with alcohol should help you decide better about driving the morning after the night before. Also, if you live in Scotland, then the levels are much lower and these figures again go out of the window.

Alcohol has changed a lot since 1967. Most beers and lagers are over 4%, most wine comes in a bigger glass, and spirits vary in strength. Add to that the fact that we are all so very different, and you will understand that there is no rule for all. Think carefully, and drink carefully too. Know your intake and know your limits and that way you will never need to even consider hiring a drink driving solicitor. Celebrate your individuality, just not too much the night before work.  

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