How many units can you drink and drive in UK? – The American sun
DRINKING while driving is especially common at Christmas – and no less dangerous.
But how much is too much? Here’s where UK law stands as to what you can sip before you get behind the wheel.
While it’s impossible to know exactly how much alcohol you can handle before driving, it’s certainly best not to have any for the road.
It is also for the safety of others and yourself – with the AA estimate there are up to 800,000 unlicensed drivers roaming UK roads.
If you’re found guilty of drunk driving, you could face an increase in your auto insurance premium, a fine, a driving ban, or even a jail term.
What is the drinking and driving limit in the UK?
The drink driving limit differs in the UK depending on the country you are in.
There is a rule for motorists in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and another rule for drivers in Scotland.
The boundaries for England, Wales and Northern Ireland are:
- 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood
- 35 micrograms per 100 milliliters of breath
- 107 milligrams per 100 milliliters of urine.
In Scotland the limits are:
- 50 milligrams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood
- 22 micrograms per 100 milliliters of breath
- 67 milligrams per 100 milliliters of urine.
The drink-driving limit in Scotland was reduced in 2014 and the stricter rules mean that just one drink can put you off.
You have to be careful of limits because alcohol affects people differently depending on your weight, age, gender, metabolism, type of alcohol you drink, what you have eaten, and your stress level.
Even if you are below the limit, having just one drink can still hurt your driving skills.
In fact, with just 10 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood (one-eighth of the limit in England and Wales), you’re 37% more likely to be in a fatal accident than when you’re completely sober.
If you are driving the day after a big night out, be extremely careful, you may still have enough alcohol in your system to exceed the limit.
How can alcohol affect driving?
Your ability to drive safely with alcohol in your system is affected by:
- The brain takes longer to receive messages from the eye
- Information processing becomes more difficult
- Instructions to body muscles are delayed, resulting in slower reaction times
- Blurry and double vision affects your ability to see things clearly while driving
- You are more likely to take potentially dangerous risks because you act on impulses that you normally suppress
What can affect the drink driving limit?
There are several factors that can affect the amount of alcohol absorbed into your blood, which can cause you to exceed the limit.
These levels may depend on:
- your weight, age, gender and metabolism (the rate at which your body uses energy)
- the type and amount of alcohol you drink
- what you ate recently
- your stress level at the time
What is the penalty for drunk driving?
If you cause death while driving under the influence of alcohol, you could be jailed for up to 14 years.
Just being caught over the limit can earn you a driving ban, a £ 2,500 fine and even a short jail term.
The actual sentence you incur belongs to the magistrates who hear your case and depends on your offense.
Here are the maximum penalties for impaired drivers:
- Be responsible for a vehicle over the legal limit or unfit due to alcohol: three months’ imprisonment, up to £ 2,500 fine, possible driving ban
- Driving or attempting to drive above the legal limit or unfit due to alcohol: six months imprisonment, an unlimited fine and a driving ban for at least one year (three years if you have been convicted twice in 10 years)
- Refusal to provide a breath, blood or urine sample for analysis: six months imprisonment, an unlimited fine and a driving ban for at least one year
- Cause death by reckless driving under the influence of alcohol: 14 years in prison, an unlimited fine, a driving ban for at least two years and an extended driving test before your license is returned
Other issues include:
- A significant increase in the cost of auto insurance
- If you drive for work, your employer will see your conviction on your license
- You may find it difficult to travel to countries like the United States
How many units of alcohol can you have before driving?
The legal limit for drinking and driving cannot be safely converted into a certain number of units, as it depends on a number of factors such as gender, body mass and how quickly your body absorbs the alcohol.
As a rule of thumb, two pints of regular lager or two small glasses of wine would get you over the limit.
It takes about two hours for a pint to leave your system, although stronger beers and ciders take longer.
A large glass of wine (250 ml) is still in the blood for four hours, while a single scoop of alcohol only takes an hour.
You will need to add an hour for the alcohol to be absorbed into the system. So if you’ve got four pints and you stop drinking at midnight, you’re not safe to drive until at least 9 a.m.
If you have a bottle of wine you have to wait until 1 p.m. the next day.
But that’s not a catch-all rule, because there are so many variables on how your body processes alcohol, each one has different limits.
The easiest way to make sure that you are safe behind the wheel and in compliance with the law is to not drink at all if you plan on driving.
You should also give yourself plenty of time the next day before you leave.
When was the first road breathalyzer test performed?
The first road breathalyzer was carried out 50 years ago, on October 8, 1967.
In the year the breathalyzer was introduced 1,640 people were killed in crashes attributed to alcohol, but tax collectors protested to then-Transport Minister Barbara Castle that the new law could bankrupt them.
AA President Edmund King said: “The breathalyzer is associated with mandatory seat belts and the introduction of EuroNCAP crash tests as the three biggest road safety measures introduced in the last half. century.
“The breathalyzer test and subsequent campaigns have saved thousands of lives and helped make drink driving socially unacceptable.”
Which celebrities have been caught in the act of drunk driving?
Struggling TV star Ant McPartlin has been slapped with one of the highest driving fines ever in the UK after injuring a four-year-old girl after crashing into her parents’ car in Richmond, London.
He was stung for £ 86,000 after pleading guilty to exceeding double the drinking and driving limit at Wimbledon Magistrates’ Court.
Former England captain Wayne Rooney was arrested for drunk driving and subsequently pleaded guilty to the offense.
Sky Sports presenter Kirsty Gallacher was banned from driving for two years in 2017 after admitting to exceeding the limit.
And Liverpool ace Roberto Firmino was banned from driving for 12 months in February 2017 after being caught on the wrong side of the road and above the legal alcohol limit.