A recent study by the Department for Transport has found that alcohol-related deaths on the UK’s roads increased by nearly 20% in 2012. This is an alarming figure when you consider that awareness around the dangers of drink-driving is much higher than it was for previous generations. So why are drivers still taking the risk?
Well obviously you have the “I won’t get caught” mentality. Well perhaps not, but you may just kill yourself, or worse, someone else. Then there is ignorance around what it takes to be over the limit. It is impossible to give an exact amount as everyone will be different; factors such as gender, weight, age and metabolism will all play a role. The level of alcohol in your blood will also depend on whether you have eaten, and how quickly you were drinking. On average your body will break down one unit of alcohol per hour, and each unit will increase your blood alcohol content by 20mg (up to 30mg for women). The UK limit is 80mg per 100ml blood, meaning a pint to a pint and a half of beer, or one glass of wine at 13% is likely to be within the drink-drive limit. So those two pints at lunchtime or that large glass of wine well may be pushing you over the limit, particularly if you drink in a rush.
And what many people, particularly those who suffer from alcohol addiction, may not be aware of, is the amount of times they are over the limit when they get into the car the next morning. And this doesn’t just apply to going out to bars and binge drinking. For many, there is a belief that they have “slept it off” – they no longer feel the effects of the alcohol so they must be sober, right? Wrong. If you consider someone who is drinking a bottle of wine a night is drinking around ten units – if this bottle is finished at 11pm and alcohol is broken down at the rate of around 1 unit per hour that means the alcohol has not left the system until 9am the following day – a time when most people have already arrived at work… There is nothing that can be done to speed up the breaking down of alcohol – having a cup of coffee or a shower is likely to make you feel better but the alcohol is still in the system. There is a saying used by traffic police; “twelve hours bottle to throttle” which can be a good marker to make sure you are sober when driving the next day (obviously this is a guideline rather than a fool-proof plan).
If we want to reduce the numbers of accidents and deaths caused by drink-driving it is important that we all increase our knowledge around the impact of alcohol abuse on our ability to drive. If you are out with a friend who is considering drink-driving, don’t turn a blind eye, help them to get home safely. There are also those who are aware a loved-one is drink driving, but understandably do not want the person to get into trouble. However, you are not doing this person any favours by letting them get behind the wheel, and actually getting the police involved can sometimes be the wake-up call someone needs to put their own and other’s safety first. It can be a harsh lesson, but a worthwhile one if it saves lives.
If you are concerned about your own or someone else’s drinking, give us a call. We are happy to provide free, confidential advice.