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The Dangers of a ‘Merry’ Christmas – the Morning After

Dec 16, 2015

As the Christmas party season gets into full swing it is worth considering the potential dangers of having a “merry” Christmas. In this festive season, many of us will drink more often than usual and in circumstances where we would not normally do so, such as the mid-week office party.  

Greater awareness of the dangers of drink driving lead many well intentioned people to plan ahead and consider measures to avoid the temptation of driving home at the end of an evening of seasonal celebration.  

However, every year we are instructed by people who have been arrested for driving with excess alcohol for journeys made the following morning. Sadly, these are people that have often consciously made efforts to avoid drink driving but failed to appreciate the length of time the body takes to break down alcohol.  

Many people wrongly assume that after a night of heavy drinking, all it takes is a night’s sleep to be fit to drive again. However, the amount of alcohol in your system is dependent on how much you have consumed, the period of time over which you have consumed it and the speed with which your body can eliminate alcohol. In general terms, alcohol is removed from the blood at the rate of one unit per hour although this varies from person to person.

Factors such as size and gender (men tend to process alcohol quicker than women), how much food you have eaten, the state of your liver and your metabolic rate (the speed at which your body turns food into energy) affect the breakdown of alcohol.  

Contrary to popular opinion having a strong cup of coffee or a cold shower will not speed up the process.

The Law

It is easy to think of yourself as some who is not a ‘drink driver’ if you drive following a heavy night, but it is your legal responsibility to ensure that you are under the limit before you take to the road again. The penalties for drink driving are significant. The court will make little or no distinction from those who inadvertently drive the morning after from stereotypical drink drivers. The penalty and length of disqualification is largely dependent upon how high your alcohol reading is but other factors will also be taken into account:

  • First Offence
    A first time offender will be subject to at least a 12 month disqualification and a fine of up to £5000.
  • Second Offence within 10 Year Period
    The minimum disqualification increases to a three year disqualification.

A drink driving conviction can affect your ability to work, increase your car insurance premiums, and will result in a criminal conviction which remains on your record indefinitely and on your driving record for 11 years.  

The simple advice is that you should take extra care to ensure you are fit to drive in the morning after a night of drinking. If you know you have to drive the next day make sure you leave plenty of time between your last drink that night and your first drive the next day.


Dan Hart

About the author

Dan Hart

Dan joined Nockolds in October 2015 as a Solicitor within the Motoring, Crime and Regulatory department. 

His areas of expertise include criminal defence, road traffic ...

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