Thursday, 23 December 2010

On behalf of Cambridgeshire Road Safety Partnership...

It’s here, the Christmas office party, the firm’s “do”. Traditionally it’s a time to have a great time with your work mates and give the boss some gentle stick. It’s also the time for some to lose their driving licence, get a huge fine and possibly a prison sentence. Now there’s a party they’ll never forget. 

Everyone likes a good time at Christmas and New Year. It’s the party season. The only safe course of action is not to drink and drive. Not only on the day of the office party but also on the day after it. (Don’t think that the morning after provides your body with an instant all clear. It doesn’t). So on the day and the day after take the bus, a taxi or arrange to have a non-drinking designated driver. But do not drink and drive.
Alcohol severely impairs the driver
Alcohol tends to make you feel over confident and more likely to take risks when driving. This false confidence increases the danger to all road users, including you. The legal limit in the UK is 80 milligrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood. But any amount of alcohol affects your ability to drive safely. The effects include
  • Slower reactions
  • Reduced co-ordination
  • Loss of ability to judge speed, time and distance
  • Diminished concentration
There is absolutely no failsafe method of how to stay under the legal limit. Nor is there a magic formula to employ that allows you to drink and drive safely. Many elements have to be taken into account, including your weight, age, sex and metabolism; your stress levels; the amount and type of alcohol; and an empty stomach. The only safe option is not to drink if you plan to drive. And never offer a drink to someone else who is driving.

A driver will be found guilty of drink driving if he or she has more than:

  • 35 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath
  • 80 milligrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood
  • 107 milligrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of urine

Drinking and driving does not mix and the law is very clear on how it deals with it:

  • Driving or attempting to drive whilst above the legal limit (or unfit through drink) carries a maximum penalty of six months imprisonment, a fine of up to £5,000 and a minimum 12 months driving ban.
  • An endorsement for a drink-driving offence remains on a driving licence for 11 years. That means 11 years before a convicted driver will have a clean licence again.
  • Being in charge of a vehicle whilst over the legal limit or unfit through drink could result in three months imprisonment plus a fine of up to £2,500 and a driving ban.
  • Should a driver refuse to provide a specimen of breath, blood or urine for analysis the penalty is a maximum six months imprisonment, up to £5000 fine and a driving ban of at least 12 months.
  • Causing death by careless driving when under the influence of drink or drugs carries a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison; a minimum two year driving ban; and a requirement to pass an extended driving test before being able to   rive again legally.

Think before drinking and driving, is it worth:
  • The humungous taxi bill resulting from say a three year ban
  • Being separated from family and friends whist serving up to 14 years in prison
  • Your savings being frittered away paying a fine (typically £5000)
  • Being forced to sit an extended driving test
  • Getting a criminal record that could also make you unemployable
  • Having your insurance costs go through the roof
  • Experiencing a real problem hiring a car for the next 10 years
Even on the morning after you’re still not safe
On the morning after you’ve been out drinking you may still be affected by the alcohol you’ve consumed. You could feel fine but in reality be unfit to drive or be over the legal alcohol limit. Showering, drinking coffee, or other ways of sobering up will not help. It is impossible to get rid of alcohol from your body other than through time. You could still lose your licence if you drive the day after your party.

Any amount of alcohol will affect your judgement. Starting with your judgement about whether you should have another drink or not. And if you think you won’t get caught, think again. More than half a million breath tests are carried out each year and on average 100,000 are found to be positive. Take the bus.