Drinking and driving is a serious offence which carries severe penalties for those who are caught behind the wheel whilst over the legal alcohol limit. There are many myths in circulation which surround the drink drive limit with ambiguity. When asked “what is the legal drink drive limit?” drivers respond with different answers, which is a major cause for concern as there’s only one version of the law! This is also a worrying prospect as motorists are taking to the roads with uncertainty as to whether they’re within the legal limit – potentially endangering other motorists and putting their licenses in jeopardy. Technically, the only safe amount of alcohol to consume when driving is none – despite this, there is a legal limit in place to allow small quanities of alcohol to be consumed.
In 2010 a report by Sir Peter North commissioned by the Secretary of State made a number of recommendations with regard to drink driving. It suggested that the drink driving limits should be lowered in line with other European countries. He cited a NICE report statistic that a driver with a reading between 50 mg/100 ml and 80 mg/100 ml is at least 6 times more likely to die in a collision than a driver who had not had alcohol. However, in March this year, Phillip Hammond the Transport Secretary, announced that the government would not change the drink drives limits but would focus instead on improving enforcement and education to tackle the drink and drug drivers who put lives at risk.
The Reason for a Drink Drive Limit
Some people may question “what is the legal drink drive limit in place for?” Because alcohol affects the human body in such drastic ways, even small quantities of alcohol can have an impact on brain functionality. Alcohol is a depressant and therefore, causes inebriation – this is what delays drivers’ reaction times. If a driver’s ability to react to changing conditions when driving they put themselves, fellow motorists and pedestrians’ safety at risk.
When a motorist is suspected of drink driving, they are stopped by the police and breathalysed. There are a large number of myths which claim to help the motorist provide a lower reading of alcohol in their breath. One of which is to eat an abundance of mints, this won’t work for one main reason – the breath test doesn’t identify the smell of alcohol, it tests the number of micrograms of alcohol found in 100ml of tested breath. If this number of micrograms exceeds 35 the driver is classed as over the limit. Strong, odorous foods and drinks lack the ability to clear the driver of drink driving as the smell of alcohol is not the parameter tested to assess if the driver is over the limit.
Some people believe size and weight affects the amount of alcohol an individual can consume before being over the legal limit. Although size and weight does vary how alcohol affects a person, it can’t be used as an indication as to whether they are fit to drive. Different people are affected differently each time they drink – on one occasion they may feel no physical or mental change, then they may drink the same amount the following week and feel lethargic and drowsy. The truth is alcohol seriously slows down a driver’s reaction times, regardless of their size and weight, anyone who consumes above the legal alcohol limit risks endangering themselves, other motorists and pedestrians.
Some motorists believe they’re fit to drive the morning after consuming an excessive amount of alcohol. Although they may have slept, the alcohol may still be in their bloodstream to the extent that they are still considered over the legal limit. Before driving in the morning, motorists need to ensure they’ve had adequate sleep, food and drink. If they still feel drowsy they should avoid taking to the road and use public transport instead.
Legal Drink Drive Limit
What is the legal drink drive limit? The current legal limits for alcohol consumption and driving are: 35 micrograms of alcohol for each 100ml of tested breath; 80 micrograms of alcohol present in 100ml blood test and 107mg of alcohol in 100ml of urine.
In practice the police will not charge a person whose reading in breath is 39mg or below. If no more than 50mg is blown then the driver will have the option to give blood or urine, which will then be examined by a forensic scientist. They are then usually bailed to return to the police station at a later date for the results of the analysis. They will also be offered a sample so that they can have independently analysed should they so wish.
Although it is legal to consume a small amount of alcohol and drive, the best way for motorists to avoid exceeding the legal limit is to simply use public transport and leave the car at home after consuming alcohol. Drivers can relax and enjoy their night without endangering other motorists and themselves or facing a driving disqualification.
If you have been caught drink driving you are entitled to free legal advice and support from motoring offence solicitors. To speak to one of our friendly team give us a call on 0845 485 1231, chat with us online or email us enquiries@justmotorlaw.