Driving under the influence of alcohol

We all know that you shouldn’t get behind the wheel after you've had a drink. Here's what you can expect if you're caught under the influence whilst driving.


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By Chloe Martell

Updated on Dec 4th, 2020

We all know that you shouldn’t get behind the wheel after we’ve had an alcoholic drink, but unfortunately, some people still do this and can be found over the limit if they are stopped by the police.

We hear a lot about how many micrograms and milligrams you’re allowed before you’re over the limit – but what does this really mean?

According to drinkaware.co.uk, in England and Wales, the alcohol limit for drivers is 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood, 35 micrograms per 100 millilitres of breath or 107 milligrams per 100 millilitres of urine. But let’s face it – we have no idea how much that is, do we? There’s almost no way we can test how much is in our blood, breath or urine before getting behind the wheel!

How much can I drink before driving?

There are no hard and fast rules about how many pints of beer or glasses of wine you can drink to ensure that you’re still under the limit. The limit and how much you can drink before you’re over it will be different for everyone. Whilst you may see advice on how much you can drink, the only way to guarantee you won’t be over the limit is to not have an alcoholic drink. It really is that simple.

The punishment

Police stop

If you’re caught drink driving, the consequences are serious – and that’s before any repercussions of your behaviour. Anyone caught over the limit when driving will be banned from driving for at least 12 months and fined up to £5,000. You may also be given between 3 and 11 points on your licence. If that wasn’t enough, you could even end up in prison for up to 6 months. So, is having that alcoholic drink really worth it? After all the hard work you’ve put in to pass your test and get your car, you could lose it in the blink of an eye.

If you are convicted of drunk driving, the long-term problems that could arise include a dramatic increase in insurance premiums or refusal of cover. Even problems travelling to other parts of the world such as the US, Canada, China and Australia. This black mark on your record means that you could struggle to get employment if you found yourself looking for work or changing careers. A drink driving offence is still classed as a criminal conviction meaning it will stay on your record for 11 years until it is spent.

If you’re heading out?

We’re not trying to stop you from having a good time, but having a driving plan in place will stop any driving whilst under the influence. If you’re heading out with friends – see if someone wants to be a designated driver! They’ll stay off the alcohol and drive safely to and from your night out. Some bars and clubs with even give designated drivers free soft drinks if you show them your car keys and prove you’re the designated driver.

If all of you want to have an alcoholic drink, there’s nothing better than a good old-fashioned taxi to see you home at the end of a night. Yes, it costs more than your friend giving you a lift – but it’s a lot cheaper than the fine you will get if you’re caught over the limit behind the wheel.

Keys on table

So how long does it take for alcohol to leave your system before you can drive again?

Generally, the most tolerable amount of alcohol any one person can intake is 2 pints of normal strength lager or 2 small glasses of wine. But, it is also worth knowing that a person's gender, weight, metabolism and what they have eaten that day, all play a factor in how the alcohol can affect them. Even if you have had a bit of sleep and waited until the next morning to drive after a night out, this doesn't mean that you are safe to do so. One pint of beer takes roughly 2 hours to leave your system, so if you have consumed more than that in an evening, it's probably still going to be present in your bloodstream hours later. Our advice is simple, just don't drink any alcohol at all if you plan on getting behind the wheel whether it be on the night or the morning after.

There are so many risks when driving under the influence but we’re sure you already know that. Whether you've had drink or drugs, stay safe by not getting behind the wheel.

Check out our blog on 'driving under the influence of drugs'

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Chloe Profile Picture

By Chloe Martell

As a new driver, I'm so eager to share my driving journey with you all - from when I was a learner, going through my test and all the aspects of my driving life now, including my love of cars!


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