Is it dangerous to drink and drive? Drinking and driving can potentially be an incredibly risky activity – but how bad is it really and should you be worried about driving if you’ve had a little to drink on a night out or with that last pub meal? Well, this is something we’ll be considering today to help you find out more about becoming a safe driver; after all, cars are fuelled up machines and can be incredibly dangerous both for you and other road users if not used safely. But, with a little thought, consideration and careful planning, you can help ensure you stay safe and legal while out on the roads – even after a night out!
Is It Recommended To Not Drink and Drive?
Is it recommended not to drink and drive? Absolutely! Drinking and driving don’t go hand in hand and alcohol consumption has severe implications for your ability to safely make decisions when driving overall. In turn, this ensures that drinking and driving comes with massive risks, both for you and those around you so, you should never attempt to drive if you think you could be over the limit.
However, everyone reacts differently to alcohol consumption, so even the safe limit may not be right for you for a number of reasons. Therefore, if you have had anything to drink, it’s advisable to avoid driving until the alcohol is out of your system.
This can also depend on a variety of factors such as how much you have eaten, your body mass and your bodies ability to metabolise alcohol in the first place. However it is always recommended that you shouldn’t drink in the first place if you are planning to drive.
What Happens To My Brains Ability to Make Decisions When I Drink and Drive?
In the moment, it’s easy to feel in control. However, after alcohol consumption, numerous changes occur in your brain that may severely hinder your ability to drive safely. Perhaps most notably, alcohol consumption impacts the prefrontal cortex, which can severely impact your ability to think rationally and make decisions, especially in split-second situations, as can be the case when driving. Furthermore, alcohol consumption also has numerous other detrimental effects on your ability to drive safely, such as slurring your speech, hearing and blurring your vision.
With all of this in mind, it’s easy to see why drinking and driving are often considered dangerous. And though you might think that you’re able to perceive the world rationally in the moment, the reality is that you’re probably not quite thinking straight after alcohol consumption – especially if you’ve gone above the alcohol consumption limit.
How Much Alcohol Is Too Much When Driving?
At this point, we’ve outlined why drinking and driving is so dangerous when put together. But what’s the cutoff point? Indeed, it’s perfectly legal to drive if you’ve just had a very small amount of alcohol consumption, such as a small beer or shandy. And, let’s be honest here – one tiny sip of wine from your partner’s glass isn’t likely to impact your decision-making ability alone unless you follow it up with more. But at what point does alcohol consumption become problematic for your ability to make decisions and drive safely?
Well, there are three main limits you should consider here: the alcohol level in your breath, blood, and urine. If you were stopped at the side of the road, the police officer would likely ask you to complete an alcohol breath check and in this case, the cutoff is 35 micrograms of alcohol per 100ml of breath. However, if you then had to complete further alcohol tests, such as providing a blood or urine sample, the limits are 80 and 107 milligrams per 100ml of a sample, respectively.
However, we should point out here that this is based on the limits for drink-driving in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland; the limits are much lower at 22 micrograms and 50/67 milligrams per 100ml in Scotland, respectively.
How Many Units Would Make Me Over The Limit?
What do these microgram and milligram measures actually mean in the real world? Well, this is a somewhat tricky question to answer as it largely depends on your drinking habits. Alcohol can remain in your body for up to 20 hours quite easily; if you were to finish drinking on a heavy night out at 4am and then start driving at 10am, you’d still have alcohol in your body from the evening session. What’s more, we all react to alcohol differently; as such, while one person may have excreted all alcohol from their system within 18 hours, it may take another person far longer depending on the factors we stated above.
Understanding How Units of Alcohol Work
Unfortunately, there is no hard and fast rule for how many units of alcohol will take you over the limit. However, it’s commonly agreed that just two units of alcohol will definitely take you over the drink-drive limit. But, for some people, even one unit may push you above this limit, depending on how your body processes the alcohol.
But how much does this equate to? Well, one unit typically measures in at:
- A single shot of spirits (ABV around 40%)
- 78ml of wine (ABV 13%) – around two-thirds of a small glass
- 247ml of average-strength beer, lager, or cider (ABV 4%)
How Do I Know If I’m Over The Limit?
It’s not always necessarily easy to know if you’re over the drink-drive limit. However, if you’ve drunk anything at all alcoholic, it’s best not to drive since you can’t easily assess this yourself.
Still, it’s often easy to tell when someone is driving over the alcohol limit since their driving may be erratic, with late braking, uncontrolled movements (leading to veering across the road), forgetting to indicate. Drink drivers will usually have difficulty focusing on the road and may have blurred vision, and it’s not uncommon for them to experience momentary lapses in concentration (which increase the chances of accidents drastically).
When driving and not under the influence of alcohol, always be highly cautious of other road users. If you notice any road users displaying signs that might indicate they are drink-driving, they should be reported to the police for everyone’s safety. You should keep a far longer-than-normal distance from their vehicle just in case they should make a hasty move that could result in you getting injured.
Drinking and driving can be incredibly dangerous. However, many people get confused with the exact allowances and guidelines regarding drinking and driving, which may leave you accidentally caught out. To be safe, while you can technically drink and drive if you’ve had below the limits explained above, it’s safest to not drink alcohol at all if you’re worried.
After all, the consequences for drinking and driving can be severe; you might lose your license, sure, but even worse is the risk of losing your life or somebody else’s – and it’s never worth that or imprisonment. Call a cab instead, or stay clear of the booze for one night. You’ll be grateful for it when you wake up in the morning with just a hangover too clear.