Don’t let the World Cup drive you to drink

England’s defeat in their opening World Cup game against Italy on Saturday could be enough to drive you to drink alone - the performance was decent enough, but the result means qualifying could be a tall order. And the fact the 2014 World Cup is also being held in Brazil presents another reason to head to the pub or a friend’s house to sink a few cold ones – the time difference means all the matches will be televised in the evenings. If you are planning on taking the car, however, be warned. All the England defeats in the world won’t be worse than a drink-drive conviction and, perhaps, even someone’s life on your conscience.

Going out to watch the game?

Research for the government’s anti drink-driving Think! campaign shows two-thirds of fans are planning to drink alcohol while watching televised games, but just a third have considered how they will get home afterwards. And if you think you’ll be fine to drive after “just a couple of pints”, think again. No-one can second guess their tolerance of alcohol on any given day, and if you get caught driving while over the limit, the penalties are severe. Not only will you be hit with an automatic 12-month driving ban, which comes with a criminal record and an 11-year endorsement on your licence, you’ll have your car impounded and will have to pay a release fee to get it back. And then there’s the small matter of the fine, which could be as much as £5,000.

Police presence

If you think you won’t be caught, have a re-think about that too. The police will be out in force to catch drink drivers, knowing there’ll be people who’ll take the risk. During the 2010 World Cup, 7,402 people failed breath tests and, being one of those that was breathalysed during this tournament, I can tell you it’s a terrifying experience even when you’ve not been drinking! So if you’ll be going the pub or round to a mate’s house to watch the game, arrange a lift with someone who’s not drinking or book a taxi to get you back.

The morning after…

And then there’s the morning after to think about… Maybe you’re planning on watching the games from the comfort of your own home? If you’re having a few drinks while the match is on, you need to consider whether you’ll be fit to drive the next morning. Although there are variables that can affect how quickly your body processes alcohol, it takes an average of one hour to process one unit. This means drinking 12 units of alcohol – what you’d get from five pints of 4.0% lager, which is a not unrealistic amount over the course of an evening – will take 12 hours to clear your system. Drink this amount while watching one of the 11pm kick offs and there’s a good chance you’ll be over the limit on the drive to work the following morning. If you’re still not convinced, check out this video to see how long it took me to clear 18 units from my system. And then take a look at the table below to see how many units you could be putting away. Are you safe to drive the morning after?

Some sobering facts…

And if you’re still thinking of risking it, consider these sobering facts:
  • In 2012, 280 people were killed in drink drive accidents, accounting for 16% of all road deaths in Great Britain.
  • Drink driving caused 1,200 serious injuries in 2012, 5% of all seriously injured road casualties.
  • Of those killed in drink drive accidents in 2011, 71% were drivers and riders over the legal alcohol limit, the remaining 29% were other road users.
  • During 2012, 55,300 people in England and Wales were convicted of driving after consuming alcohol or taking drugs.
  • If you’re convicted of a drink driving offence, the combined cost of the legal costs, court fines and the loss of your job as a result of the driving ban means that quick pint could end up costing you around £50,000.

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