Drink driving

Every year in the UK drink driving causes the deaths of around 250 people and seriously injures 1200 people. Often the driver who is over the limit escapes severe injury and it is bystanders who bears the brunt of the motorist’s alcohol consumption. 120 pedestrians, 20 pedal cyclists and 240 motorcyclists are killed or injured a year as a result of drink drivers, as are 500 car passengers. Annually about 60 children are killed or seriously injured in drink-drive incidents.

According to recent reports between 15-40% of all road accidents are the consequence of excessive alcohol consumption with: “a total of over 3000 people a year making up the death and serious injury statistics.”

According to Brighton and Hove Council over a period of 5 years alcohol related collisions in Sussex have cost society in total £197,770,000. The council also reports that one fifth of fatal collisions in Sussex were alcohol related. Throughout the year Sussex police operate anti drink-drive measures, the police can breathalyse any driver they stop if they suspect they have been drinking.

The legal drink drive limit is 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood. It is important to be aware that even the slightest amount of alcohol in your system can have an affect on your brain and impair your judgement. Even at 20-30mg per 100ml of blood you will probably experience an inability to see or locate moving lights accurately, your ability to judge distances will be impaired and a tendency to take risks will be heightened. 50-80mg of alcohol impairs your eyes adaptability to light conditions changing and your sensitivity to red lights is affected. Your ability to react quickly or concentrate is also severely impaired.

Over the limit at 80-120mg per 100ml of blood a euphoria will set in and cause you to over estimate your ability. Peripheral vision will be greatly reduced and perception of obstacles will be impaired. Any more than this and RoadSafety.org.uk says this is the: “Beginning of complete unfitness to drive.” You will be suffering from a “Serious impairment of concentration and vision. Very delayed and impaired reactions. Major orientation problems.” You are statistically 20 time more likely to have a collision if you drive at double the legal limit.

You should also take in to account that the time it takes for the alcohol in your system to completely metabolise is more than a couple of hours and cannot be hastened with coffee or any other method. It is possible to be over the limit the morning after a bout of heavy drinking.

If you are found to be driving over the limit the minimum penalties you could face is to lose your licence and having the points on your licence for an additional 10 years after a year’s driving ban. You could face 6 months imprisonment or a fine of £5000. There is also a penalty for refusing to comply with the police when asked to give a breath, blood or urine sample of £5000, a maximum of 6 months’ imprisonment and a 12 month driving ban.

The only way to be confident you are at the safe limit is to not drink at all prior to driving. Even if you are under the drink drive limit your ability to drive will be slightly affected.

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