The latest figures from the Department for Transport (DfT) show almost one-in-five drink drive accidents (18.6%) and convictions (17%) happen ‘the morning after’, when drivers may not be aware they still have alcohol in their system from the night before. So if you’re hoping the tried-and-trusted method of a few hours’ sleep and a strong cup of tea or coffee will see you right the next day, it won’t. And while waking up with a fuzzy head after a night out is a good indication there’s still alcohol in your system, even if you wake up feeling fine you could still be over the limit.
Breath of fresh air
Over half a million breath tests are carried out in the UK each year, with around 20% proving positive. And police can stop you at any time and ask you to take a breath test (‘breathalyse’ you) if:
- they think you’ve been drinking
- you’ve committed a traffic offence
- you’ve been involved in a road traffic accident.
Whether or not you are pulled over and breathalysed can depend upon which part of the country you are from, as testing levels vary from region to region. For instance, while North Wales has an average of 72 breath tests per 1,000 of the population, Avon and Somerset has just four breath tests per 1,000. The national average, according to the Home Office, is 12 breath tests per 1,000. For more on the consequences of being caught over the limit, check out Think! about the morning after.
Know your limits
The legal alcohol limit for drivers in England and Wales is 80 milligrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood, 35 microgrammes per 100 millilitres of breath or 107 milligrammes per 100 millilitres of urine. In most other European countries, the limit is less, usually 50 milligrammes per 100 millilitres of blood, and Scotland has lowered its limits to bring things in line with the Continent. So the limit north of the border is now 50 milligrams of alcohol in every 100 millilitres of blood, 22 micrograms of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath and 67 milligrammes per 100 millilitres of urine. How will you know whether or not you’re within these limits though? One way is to turn to tech and get yourself a personal breathalyser kit. The top-of-the-range units claim to offer the same levels of accuracy, reliability and consistency as police equipment. As well as giving a detailed alcohol reading, some of these devices provide an estimated time until sober, and will alert you to re-test after your estimated sober times.
We caught up with Hunter Abbott from Alcosense who explains how easy it is to be over the limit the morning after…
There’s an App for that…
As you might expect, the App world is on the case as well. One example is the Morning After app, which is free on IOs and Android. Once downloaded, just enter the number of drinks you’ve had from each category and it will tell you how long it’ll take to sober up – obviously, it’s not nailed-on accurate, but it will give you a rough idea. The best thing you can do, though, is not drink at all if you’ll be driving on a night out or the morning after. Alcohol affects everyone differently and its effect on each of us can vary depending upon the time of day, how much you’ve eaten and even your current state of mind – meaning you can never truly know your limit and making it better to be safe than sorry.