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'Tis the Season to be Jolly... But How Long For?

Nov 24, 2014

As a Police Traffic Officer, the run up to Christmas, for me, often involved four hours overtime for “Christmas drink drive patrols” which included first thing in the morning.

Attitudes to drink driving have changed dramatically in the last 10 years. It is now very common for those attending Christmas parties to make arrangements to get home afterwards by train, cab, or to stay over in a hotel.

However, what has not changed is the number of people who are arrested for drink driving the following morning on the way home or to work. Having dealt with a number of morning-after cases in the last year, I have found that these are people who have made the effort to avoid drink driving, but have simply not appreciated the length of time the body takes to deal with alcohol.

I would love to be able to publish a chart for clients to read off when it would be safe to drive; unfortunately there are simply too many variables. These include gender, your body fat content, how much and how regularly you drink, and medical conditions.

Many people assume that after a night’s sleep they will be fine to drive, after all it is just a hangover...

However, as the body deals with alcohol at a fairly consistent rate, it varies within the range of 10 microgrammes per hour to approximately 24 per hour. A pint of ordinary lager or a glass of white wine increases your blood alcohol by roughly the same amount; your body can’t get rid of it any faster no matter how much you have had to drink. The legal driving limit is 35 microgrammes of alcohol per 100ml of breath.

If you consider yourself tipsy or drunk and the party ends at 2am, your blood alcohol is unlikely to have dropped below the limit when you leave for work the next morning. This is because sleep does not reduce the effects of alcohol any faster. The police are aware of this and are out there waiting!

To get a reliable blood alcohol figure the police need to follow the procedure precisely - if they don’t it can give the impression that your reading is higher than it actually is. This can make the difference between being over the legal driving limit and not.

If you do find yourself facing a drink drive allegation get expert advice, the minimum ban is 12 months!


Pete Dodd

About the author

Pete Dodd

Pete joined Nockolds in 2004 as a Partner within the Family Team. Before joining the firm Pete graduated from Bristol University with a degree in ...

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