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Drink Driving Over The Christmas Period

Car keys next to a spilled drink owned by a drunk driver

During the month of December, alcohol consumption in the UK increases by over 40%. Despite repeated government campaigns on the rules of road safety and scheduled police vigilance in the UK, every year during Christmas, around 700,000 people are said to sit behind the wheel. This is in accordance with one in five individuals knowing that they have exceeded the drinking limits for driving but would still choose to break the law.

Famous car finance provider Zuto has predicted chaos on the UK streets on Christmas Eve as motorists are presumed to head home after a Christmas party or get-together. Considering that over 500 deaths still take place each year due to drink driving, it is imperative for everyone to be on guard during this time.

Although over the past year, there has been a considerable reduction in drink-driving offences in the UK, demonstrating an overall decrease of 7%, which is quite commendable, it is imperative to keep a watchful eye on drunk drivers during the festive season when the frequency of cars and drunk drivers increases in leaps and bounds, with the major probability of offences being taken place on Christmas Eve.

According to DVLA, drunk driving during Christmas could mean imprisonment for six months, unlimited fine and banned from driving for at least one year or up to three years if convicted for the second time in ten years.

What is the drinking limit for driving in the UK?

In England and Wales, the alcohol limit for drivers is 80 milligrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood, 107 milligrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of urine or 35 microgrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath. In most other European countries, the limit is comparatively less, generally 50 milligrams per 100 millilitres of blood. Wales is currently predicted to contain the highest number of drunk driving offenders as compared to any other region in the UK. Considering that the average number of miles driven during Christmas is around 5 miles, the drivers will mostly consider availing the residential roads after attending Christmas parties and dinner.

How much can you drink during Christmas while still staying under the limit?

You will not be able to fetch specific data in accordance with the drinking limit as it not only varies from person to person but also depends on aspects such as:

  • Your age, gender, weight and metabolism rate
  • The type and volume of alcoholic beverage you are drinking
  • How much food you have eaten before and after drinking alcohol
  • Your current stress levels

There are numerous activities we perform simultaneously when we drive, and these activities are heavily affected under the influence of alcohol. Following are examples of some of the hindrances which are caused under the influence of alcohol.

  • Processing of information is delayed.
  • Reflexes slacken, and reaction time becomes delayed as the brain takes longer to transmit messages to the body’s muscles.
  • Vision is blurred, which affects your visibility and ability to see what is in front of you.

What are the implications of drinking and driving during Christmas?

In the UK, the police will set up numerous drink-driving checkpoints during the festive season to curb the practice.

A screening breath test will be conducted by the police at the roadside if they suspect that you have been drinking and driving. If you fail the test or if the police suspect that your drinking interferes with your driving, you will be taken to the police station, and another round of breathalyser tests will be performed on you, this time with a complex breathalyser. The lower reading will be considered to prove your guilt.

If your breath sample detects that you are up to 40% over the drinking limit, you might be allowed to replace it with a blood or urine sample, which is again at the discretion of the police. If the limits still show as exceeded, you will be charged for breaking the law.

If found guilty, you might be fined up to £5,000, banned from driving for up to one year, and, depending on the seriousness of your offence, sent to prison.

How can you avoid drinking and driving during Christmas?

You can avoid drunk driving by adopting the measures below:

  • If you are planning to have a friend’s night out, ensure that you have at least one person in the group who refrains from drinking alcohol so that he or she can drive the others home safely.
  • Try to use public transport. However, if you have missed the last bus, train, or tube or you think you might not be able to board public transport after the party, take advantage of local taxis.
  • If you have no other option but to drive, you can stick to standard soft drinks and non-alcoholic beer.
  • If you have been drinking for quite some time in the night, chances are that your driving may still be affected by alcohol the next day, too. Taking a shower, eating food, drinking coffee, or even sleeping might not be able to curb the percentage of alcohol running in your bloodstream, so you should not drive the morning after a night of heavy drinking. It takes time for alcohol to leave your body, and ensure that you have allowed yourself sufficient time for it to wear off.

Every year, the UK Government spends a lot of money on a campaign to curb drink-driving during the festival season. This year, the government spent approximately £2 million to warn motorists, especially male drivers between 17 and 24, about drinking and driving. The Transport Department has also made numerous additional efforts to prevent motorists from drunk driving during Christmas. Let us pledge to remain in the best of our demeanour during this month and have a good Christmas within the boundaries of the regulations.

Check out our convicted driver insurance page for more information on how we can help you get back on the road.