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Dry January: The Effects of Drink Driving

6 January 2020

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January is upon us and many people are taking steps to start the New Year with a healthier mindset, be that by exercising more, eating healthier and maintaining a better work-life balance. After the indulgence of December many people embark upon ‘Dry January’ where they abstain from drinking alcohol for the entire month.

Whilst it is against the law to drink and drive, many people still sadly decide to get behind the wheel after they have consumed over the recommended limit of alcohol. Often leading to road traffic accidents with devastating consequences. True Solicitors investigates the effects of alcohol on your ability to drive safely and what the legal ramifications are if you are found guilty of drunk driving.

How alcohol impairs your ability to drive

Alcohol is a drug which significantly impacts your cognitive function, making it extremely dangerous to consume before driving. Its effects on the body include:

• Delayed reaction times as the brain takes longer to send messages to the different parts of the body.
• Blurred or double vision.
• An increase in the likelihood to make poorly informed decisions due to lack of inhibitions.

UK Drink Driving statistics

According to the Department for Transport (DfT), there were an estimated 48,750 reported accidents and 1870 reported deaths caused due to drink driving between 2010 and 2017. Given the various national awareness campaigns to deter people from driving under the influence, the statistics indicate that some people are still willing to selfishly take that risk.

The legal drink-driving limit in England, Wales and Northern Ireland is:

• 35 micrograms per 100 milliliters of breath
• 80 milligrammes per 100 millilitres of blood
• 107 milligrammes per 100 millilitres of urine

This typically equates to 2 pints of regular strength lager or 1 large glass of wine putting you at risk of being over the legal limit.

Although the above is the legal limit, alcohol affects different people in different ways, depending on:

• What you have eaten throughout the day
• Your stress levels
• Your weight, sex, age and metabolism
• The strength and amount of alcohol that you’re consuming

The legal consequences of drink driving

There are serious penalties if you’re found guilty of drink driving including a driving ban, fines and even imprisonment. The gov.uk website stipulates the varying degrees of punishments dependent upon the consequences of drink driving, including:

If you’re found guilty of being in charge of a vehicle while above the legal limit or unfit through drink you could face:

• Up to 3 months’ imprisonment
• A fine of up to £2500
• A possible driving ban

If you’re driving or attempting to drive whilst over the legal limit you can get:

• A 6 months’ prison sentence
• An unlimited fine
• A driving ban for at least 1 year (3 years if convicted twice in a 10 year period)
The same applies if you refuse to provide a specimen of breath, blood or urine for analysis if caught behind the wheel.

If you’re found responsible to have caused death by dangerous driving when under the influence of alcohol you could be looking at:

• 14 years’ imprisonment
• An unlimited fine
• A driving ban of at least 2 years
• Being required to take an extended driving test before your licence is returned

If you’re classed as a high risk offender you will not automatically get your licence back and will need to pass a medical examination with one of the DVLA’s appointed doctors.

It is not only the above penalties and punishments that may affect you, the long term ramifications of a drink driving conviction can include:

  • Significant increase in car insurance premiums
  • Trouble with securing employment – if driving is your main source of work
  • Issues with travelling to certain countries such as the USA

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