Regardless what weeks newspapers you are looking at there is likely to be a story about someone being convicted of driving whilst under the influence of alcohol. The vast majority of the population is well aware how serious such a conviction can be. A drink driving conviction now comes, quite rightly, with a significant taboo that would have been alien 30 years ago, and still is in other counties around the world.
The impact of a conviction extends beyond the social stigma. A person can go their entire life without so much as a parking fine, yet drive after a heavy nights binge session and be convicted of driving over the limit. In some circumstances, for example professional drivers, that can be the end of their job, their livelihood, and their career. That of course has a devastating impact on the rest of their lives, relationships and friendships. The start of a living hell.
Those individuals are the lucky ones.
There is a stigma and severe penalties for a reason. Loss of a career, pales in significance when compared with loss of a limb, loss of a life, or loss of a loved one.
Last year 5,136 people were convicted of drink driving in the UK. Those 5,136 individuals put other road users at risk by their actions. Approximately 240 people in the UK each year lose their lives as a result of drink driving incidents. These deaths are entirely avoidable and utterly unacceptable.
On 5th December 2014 the limit in Scotland was reduced from 35 micrograms to 22 micrograms per 100ml. Be in no doubt! Whilst that is likely to equate to between a half pint and a pint of beer there are so many variables you should not risk even a drop if driving that day. It is now fairly rare to hear of someone having a half pint before driving home.
However, nearly a third of drivers are caught over the legal limit the next morning, and more than a quarter are caught between the hours of 5am and 11am. Drivers must be aware of the effects of alcohol the next day.
There are various calculators online that claim to calculate when you can drive based on when you stopped drinking and how many pints you knocked back. These can be interesting and quite surprising. For example, 4 pints after work and an early night at 9pm means you wouldn’t be able to drive until 7.24am. If you have 5 pints and head home at 8.30pm, you couldn’t drive to work the next day, at least not until after 10.30am. This shows how long it takes alcohol to pass through the human body.
The effects of alcohol on driving are well documented. Reaction times are significantly slower and judgement is impaired. No stats are necessary here. It can be the difference between you stopping safely and you ending the life of a small child who runs out in front of you. That hour; that extra pint “for the road”, can make that difference. There are breathalysers available cheaply online to test yourself before driving. However, aside from the alcohol, a big night out usually goes hand in hand with tiredness, and a hangover the next morning. Both are equally detrimental to driving skills. Ditch the calculators and just don’t drive the day after a heavy session.
Blog by Alan Calderwood, Solicitor