Drink driving – the risks, legal limits and insurance consequences
After a long day at work it can be tempting to stop off for a quick pint with your colleagues before facing the commute home -- but any amount of alcohol affects your driving ability, so if you're driving it's safest not to drink at all.
Alcohol gives you a feeling of overconfidence, makes it more difficult to judge distance and speed, and slows down your reactions - making you more prone to accidents.
In 2010, 250 people in the UK died due to drink driving, according to government statistics – representing 14% of all road fatalities.
If you do drink and drive, you risk your life, and those of your passengers and anyone else who is on the road. You could end up with a drink drive conviction, which can result in a prison sentence of up to six months, a driving ban of at least 12 months, and a fine of up to £5,000 - plus you could lose your job and face higher insurance costs for years afterwards. It doesn't matter if you're "only going down the road" – a large proportion of drink drive accidents happen within the first three miles. It's just not worth the risk.
Legal drink limits
The legal alcohol limit for drivers in Britain is 35 microgrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath, or 80 milligrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood. As a general rule this would equate to about two pints of regular lager, or two small glasses of wine. Everyone's alcohol tolerance is different, however, because it depends on a combination of factors – including age, gender, weight, stress factors, metabolism, and how much you've eaten recently. There's no foolproof way of knowing whether or not you're over the limit. You could buy a breathalyser kit from a pharmacy – but remember that even if you are within the legal limit, research shows that even one drink triples your chances of dying in a crash.
There's no quick fix for getting alcohol out of your system, either: only time will sober you up – forget cold showers, strong coffee or sleep. After a heavy night, the next morning check whether you're still over the limit before you get behind the wheel.
The best advice is to not drink at all if you're driving, or to leave your car and use public transport. In some cities you can even call on a company such as ScooterMan to provide a personal chauffeur to drive you and your car home safely.
Finding car insurance after a drink-driving ban
With a drink-driving conviction it's harder to find insurance and premiums will be higher for several years to come. Research suggests that many previously convicted drivers learn from their past mistakes and are less likely to re-offend, however – and with this in mind, some companies offer specialist drink driver car insurance policies. These are likely to keep your premiums relatively low despite your conviction – which could save a lot over the 11 years the endorsement stays on your driving licence.