Don't let drink-driving play merry hell with your Christmas….

The festive season is fast approaching, and with it, comes a greater temptation to drink and be merry. But how much can you safely drink if you are the one doing the driving this Christmas, and if you do stray over the legal limit, what are the consequences and likely sentence?

The legal alcohol limit differs for each person, with the impact that alcohol has on you depending on such factors as the stress that you are under at the time, what you have recently eaten, the type and amount of alcohol consumed and your age, sex, weight and metabolism (the rate at which energy is used by your body). Alcohol tends to be processed faster by men than by women, for example, but tends to be processed more slowly by young people.

The legal alcohol limit if you are driving in the UK is 35 microgrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath, 80 milligrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood or 107 milligrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of urine.

How much can I safely drink?

In short terms, you shouldn’t drink at all when driving, for the simple reason that it is not possible to state exactly how many drinks represent your legal limit. Your ability to drive can be affected by even a relatively small amount of alcohol, with the processing of information becoming more difficult, the brain taking longer to receive messages from the eye and your reaction times also slowing down, given the delay in instructions to your body’s muscles.

You may also struggle to see as clearly when drink driving due to blurred vision, while drink also increases people’s willingness to take potentially dangerous risks.
There are good ways of ensuring that you don’t drink drive. These include deciding on the designated driver within your group of friends beforehand, so that this person abstains from alcohol on a night out and is therefore able to safely drive the rest of the group of friends home. Alternatively, you could take advantage of public transport, or simply keep a few taxi numbers close to hand.

What are the consequences if I do drink & drive?

Other than the obvious physical danger that you could place yourself, and others, in as a result of the aforementioned effects, you could also be subject to a police screening breath test at the roadside.
This test, also known as a breathalyser test, can be carried out if the police have grounds to believe that you have exceeded the drink drive limit. Such a test may also be carried out if you have been involved in an accident, or committed a moving traffic offence, such as banned turns. In the event that you fail this test, or if the police have other grounds to believe that drink has impaired your ability to drive, you can expect to be arrested and taken to a police station.

Here, two more breath specimens will need to be provided, with a decision on whether you are above the drink driving limit being made on the basis of the lower of the two readings.

How can I expect to be punished if I am caught drink driving?

Possible penalties for drink driving include a fine, driving ban and imprisonment, although the exact penalty that you receive depends on the circumstances of your offence, and is decided by the magistrates by whom your case is heard.

Being found guilty of being in charge of a vehicle while above the legal limit or unfit through drink may attract a penalty of three months’ imprisonment, a fine of up to £2,500 and a possible driving ban. Meanwhile, the offence of driving or attempting to drive while above the legal limit or unfit through drink could lead to six months’ imprisonment, a fine of up to £5,000 and a driving ban for a minimum of one year – potentially three years, if convicted twice in 10 years.

A similar punishment could apply if you refuse to provide a specimen of breath, blood or urine for analysis. In the case of death caused by dangerous driving when under the influence of drink, imprisonment could be for 14 years, with an unlimited fine, as well as a driving ban for a minimum of two years. Such an offence could also mean that your licence is only returned subject to an extended driving test.
A drink driving conviction can bring various other problems – from the need for a medical examination to get your licence back, should you be deemed a ‘high risk offender’, to a significant rise in your car insurance costs, and even problems travelling to countries like the USA.

In short, if you would like your Christmas to be a happy one, you should completely avoid drinking and driving.

If you find yourself being charged with any type of driving offence Law-Match can help.

Time is of the essence when it comes to driving offences so please don’t delay. Law-Match puts you in touch with a lawyer within one hour. We also offer a telephone or face to face consultation at no charge. This means you can quickly make informed decisions without incurring any costs at all. The Law-Match network of firms will also guarantee you will benefit from a discount on their regular charges to give you even more peace of mind.

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