Motoring lawyer Jeanette Miller has put together these drink driving pointers to help ensure that you stay on the right side of the law this Christmas.
Very few of my clients knowingly commit drink driving offences - most people prosecuted for being over the limit are often struck by how much they didn’t appreciate about alcohol, the body and drink-driving laws.
With the festive season now truly underway, I’ve put together some drink driving pointers to help ensure that you stay on the right side of the law this Christmas.
Christmas pudding and sherry trifle
The alcohol content of festive favourites such as Christmas puddings can be significantly higher than people might expect.
When eaten to excess, or teamed with a number of other treats such as chocolate liqueurs, sherry trifle and the odd festive tipple, it could be enough to put you over the drink driving limit.
The current limit is 35mg of alcohol per 100 ml of breath.
For example, a single portion of one high-street brand of Christmas pudding last year was found to have an alcohol content equivalent to a single measure of spirits, with the whole pudding potentially equalling more than a third of a bottle of brandy.
Studies have also shown that the "quick fix" way of cooking Christmas pudding in a microwave also increases the amount of alcohol it retains, when compared with the traditional slow steaming method.
The lesson here is to check the contents list of any food containing alcohol so you know exactly how much is going into your system.
Also, be extremely wary of homemade treats unless you can be certain of how much alcohol has gone into them.
Use traditional cooking methods and if you start to feel remotely tired or tipsy, don’t drive.
People we speak to often mistake being over the limit as simply feeling tired.
Home measures are frequently more liberal than pub measures.
If you're planning on consuming any alcohol and driving, a tip is to bring a measure for the alcohol and to pour the drink yourself.
Otherwise, the best solution is not to drink at all.
The morning after
All too often otherwise law abiding drivers are charged with borderline drink driving offences the morning after a heavy drinking session.
There are no guarantees that a good night’s sleep will sober you up.
Many other factors should be considered such as the amount of food and alcohol you consume, over what duration, and the number of hours’ sleep you have afterwards.
Everybody’s ability to break down alcohol is different, so unless you’re absolutely certain that you’re fit to drive, take public transport or taxis, or even stay at home.
Use your common sense if you are drinking alcohol heavily at the Christmas party until the early hours of the morning.
This could put you at risk of failing a breathalyser test on your way to work if you’ve had only a couple of hours’ sleep.
One morning or day off work has got to be better than a 12-month ban - the minimum penalty for drink driving.
Taxi costs are cheaper than a conviction
Some taxis charge up to three times the normal rate over Christmas and New Year.
With money even tighter than ever these days, some drivers may try to avoid this extra expense by driving themselves after they’ve had one too many.
My advice is simply don’t do it - this money saving calculator outlines the hidden costs of a drink driving conviction.
If you can’t afford a taxi, take the bus or stay at home.
After all, it’s a cheaper alternative than the fine of up to £5,000, driving ban, and increased future insurance premiums that you would certainly face if you were found guilty of drink-driving.
Lawyer and legal blogger Jeanette Miller is managing director at motoring law specialists Geoffrey Miller Solicitors.
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