With Christmas drawing closer, and the party season in full swing, revellers are likely to enjoy a tipple or two with friends and colleagues.
Yet, despite the well-documented dangers, some motorists will drink-drive over the festive period.
New findings show 5 per cent of motorists admitted to having been driven by someone who was over the drink-drive limit in the last three years, according to an AA/Populus survey.
And, while severe snow disruption during the past two Christmases affected the level of drink-driving as many parties were postponed, the AA is now warning that possible mild festive weather could mean we see a resurgence of the drink-driver this year.
Know your limits
The problem is, many of those who fall foul of the law are “accidental criminals” who do not know what the drink-drive limit is, or don’t know how many units are in a particular drink.
Others don’t feel tipsy, and think it is ok to get behind the wheel, or think that as they’ve had a meal, or even just a coffee, they are fine to drive; some simply can’t be bothered to walk.
But the consequences of such behaviour are extremely serious, as you are risking the lives of innocent people – as well as your own.
There is also a financial price to pay.
What are the legal limits?
As a driver, it’s worth familiarising yourself with the legal limits.
These are: 35micrograms of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath, or 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood, or 107 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of urine.
What are the penalties?
If you drive – or attempt to drive – while over the legal alcohol limit and get caught, you could face a fine of up to £5,000, or a 12-month disqualification from driving; you could even face a six-month jail sentence.
Effect on car insurance premiums
Your actions will also have a significant impact on your car insurance.
Ian Crowder of the AA, says: “If you’ve been convicted of drink-driving, you may lose your licence. When you get this back, many insurers will refuse to cover you, while those that will offer cover will usually do so at a greatly inflated cost.”
He adds that a conviction can add 40-50 per cent to the cost of your premium – making it vital to shop around.
“In extreme cases, a drink-driving offence could double the cost,” adds Crowder. “Your only option may be to go to a specialist insurer which offers cover to people with convictions.”
Motorists are being urged to take responsibility for each other over the next few weeks.
“Employers and party organisers need to make sure there are adequate soft drinks available at events, and should be encouraging partygoers to make arrangements for getting home before they set out,” says Edmund King, president of the AA.
“Parents need to check how their teenagers are getting around, and warn them never to get into a car with a drink driver. Fellow party goers must not put pressure on those are driving.”
Also be very careful before getting behind the wheel the morning after a big night out, as you may well still be over the legal limit; if in doubt, do not attempt to drive.
Beware of foods containing alcohol
New findings from insurer Esure show more than two-thirds of motorists are likely to have a drink this festive period and then drive afterwards – without even thinking about the hidden alcohol they may have consumed in foods such as Christmas cake.
“Given the number of festive drinks and treats that contain alcohol, it can be all too easy for motorists to find themselves ‘unintentionally’ over the limit,” warns Asia Yasir from Esure.
“Our advice this party season is ideally not to consume alcohol at all – whether it’s in food or drink – if you intend to drive home.”
For more information
Confused.com has an alcohol units calculator which allows you to select the drinks you would have on an average night and which works out how many units this equates to.
“This is a rough guide, and is not a substitute for common sense,” says Gareth Kloet, head of car insurance at Confused.com. “None for the road remains the best approach.”