Are you safe to drive the morning after?

With Christmas around the corner and the office parties in full swing, we spoke to Hunter Abbott from AlcoSense to talk about being over the limit the morning after a night out and the results are shocking...

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Les Roberts: With the party season fast approaching you’ve probably already organised designated drivers for nights out but did you know you could be well over the limit the morning after? We’re here with Hunter Abbot from AlcoSense to talk about consumer breathalysers.

So do we know the scale of the problem when it comes to still being over the limit the morning after?

Hunter Abbott: What we do know is that one in five prosecutions happen the morning after. Whilst that’s shocking it’s generally when police aren’t looking for drink drivers, it’s when someone gets stopped for an ancillary crime like speeding.

We did a survey about two or three years ago where we questioned a thousand motorists and asked if they drank x and y between these two hours, what time the follow day, would you feel happy to drive, and it came back 51% of those questioned got the question wrong and would drive too early, i.e. when they still have alcohol in their system and are over the limit. It shows that the problem is much larger than it appears and could be affecting as many as one in two motorists.

LR: Is that something the police do. Do they look at the morning after because they know that there going to be a lot of people who are still a hazard at that time?

HA: More and more yes, to be honest, before 2007 there wasn’t much knowledge about the morning after. We did a lot of research into the risks of morning after drink driving and AlcoSense launched at that point and did a lot of PR based around it. Since then it has become more and more of an issue which has been publicised, which is great, it’s raises awareness and helps makes the roads safer.

LR:  So what’s the importance of testing the morning after? How likely is it that people are going to be over the limit?

HA:  Depending on the person it can be very likely. The widely accepted average is processing one unit of alcohol per hour, so for example, if you have four pints of beer in one evening and drank three units of alcohol per pint, you’re looking at around 12 to 14 hours before the alcohol is cleared from your system. So, if you’ve finished drinking at midnight you could still easily be over the limit eleven o’clock the next day.

So, it’s relatively easy to have that happen, as I think you guys experienced yourselves.

LR: To get an idea of just how easy it is to find yourself over the legal limit the next morning we decided to conduct a little experiment. I drank eighteen units of alcohol over a four hour period followed by seven hours of sleep. So, was I safe to drive 7am?

Take a look.

The experiment

Its seven o’clock the time I’d normally be getting ready for work let’s see if I am safe to drive.

“Blows into a breathalyser”

Nope, still high. It is now eight o’clock I had another hour sleep let’s see if it’s safe to drive yet.

“Blows into a breathalyser again”

Nope still twice over the legal limit. It is now nine o’clock I’ve had another hour in bed   let’s see if it’s safe to drive yet.

“Blows into a breathalyser again”

Nope still over the limit. It’s now eleven o’clock, eleven hours since I stopped drinking so let’s see if I am legal to drive.

“Blows into a breathalyser again”

Yeah, well below the limit it went down quite quickly in that last hour but it still took a lot longer than expected.

LR: So these aren’t designed for people who are on a night out, they maybe have a couple of pints, and go ‘right am I over the limit, am I safe to get in the car’, they are designed for the morning after really?

HA:  Yes, any amount of alcohol in your system will affect your ability to drive. One pint or less will even affect your ability to drive. The safest time is to always use a breathalyser the morning after because at that point it’s responsible, if you’ve had a couple of pints get a taxi home. But, the next day it is very difficult to tell precisely when the alcohol is cleared from your system and that’s where AlcoSense will help you.

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