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Know your limit: The science behind the drink-drive limit

For most people, driving is an essential skill to have, but far too many people don’t consider the dangers that come with it. Crashes happen daily, and all sorts of things can cause them.

When it comes to drinking and driving, many people don’t know their own limits, particularly because they change depending on the person, and even the smallest intake of alcohol can affect you more than you’d imagine.

In the UK, the laws on drink driving are a little different for others, with some countries having a complete ban on any alcohol if you’re getting behind the wheel. As a result of having too much to drink, it can heavily impact how you drive without you even realising.

According to DrinkAware if you’ve consumed too much alcohol before driving, the brain takes a lot longer to receive messages from the eye, processing information becomes difficult and you’ll have slower reaction times. That’s just from a small amount of alcohol, the risks if you’ve been drinking heavily are far more severe.

With heavy consumption, you’ll often experience blurred vision, which can cause you to make mistakes you perhaps wouldn’t make while sober. Your driving can also become reckless because often when people drink they’ll act on urges they’d usually ignore.

In the UK, government guidelines state that the limit is 80 milligrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood, 5 microgrammes per 100 millilitres of breath or 107 milligrammes per 100 millilitres of urine. While it used to be based on units, it was found that it wasn’t an accurate way to measure the limit of getting behind the wheel.

However, many factors can influence the limit, including your weight, age, sex and metabolism. Also, the amount you’ve been drinking and how much you’ve eaten that day will also impact your ability to drive after having a drink.

There are strict laws against driving while drunk, and they can even land you in prison depending on the severity. RAC confirmed the charges available to anyone who gets behind the wheel after drinking too much. Driving or attempting to drive while above the legal limit could get you six months imprisonment, an unlimited fine and banned from driving for at least a year – even refusing to do a breathalyser could result in the same punishment.

In more severe cases, if you’ve been drinking and cause death by careless driving while under the influence, you could get 14 years imprisonment, an unlimited fine, banned from driving for at least two years and you’d need to take an extended driving test before your licence is returned.

It’s safer to avoid drink driving completely, simply because there’s no accurate way to tell whether you can legally drive or not.

How to reduce your chances of drink driving

  • Consider getting telematics insurance - Black boxes that monitor how you drive should deter you from getting behind the wheel after a drink. WiseDriving, for example, is one provider who promotes having a black box installed in your vehicle, which focuses on your driving ability and how safely you navigate the roads to give you a better price. To ensure you don’t upset your score, you’ll stay sober.
  • Choose a non-alcoholic version - Most bars and restaurants now serve virgin cocktails, low alcohol beer and wine so this means you can still enjoy those drinks but without risking drinking too much.
  • Measure out drinks yourself - If you’re visiting a friend, pour your drink yourself. A small glass of wine, for example, can look different depending on who you ask!

 

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