Young drivers and the drink drive limit

Posted by Tim Williamson on
According to new research carried out by the Red Driving School, 79% of the 1,000 young people surveyed aged between 17 to 24 years failed to identify the drink drive limit in the UK as being 80 microgrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood.

The driving school is concerned about what it describes as gaps in education and young driver awareness.

Our Motoring Offences team has experience of defending motorists accused of driving whilst over the drink drive limit in the UK. In its view, motorists have great difficulty in both identifying the legal drink drive limit in the first place and working out what that amounts to in practice.

This is one of the reasons why police in Hampshire and West Sussex have targeted their drink drive campaign this year during the rush hour in the morning to combat what they describe as 'the morning after' effect.

One of the difficulties that motorists face is that the concept of 80 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood or 35 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath is difficult to comprehend. What does that mean? As a general rule one unit of alcohol would be the equivalent of 8 to 10 microgrammes of alcohol in breath. However, it is extremely dangerous to embark on calculations of this type because the breath reading produced is affected by such things as a motorist's age, sex, weight, height and metabolic rate. No one could say with any certainty as to their metabolic rate.

Alcohol also stays in the blood stream for much longer than most people appreciate. Even after drinkers cease drinking, their blood alcohol rate will continue to rise for sometime afterwards and will only start to reduce after a period of grace has been allowed for. Some of our Motoring Offences team's clients have even been found to have been over the legal drink drive limit well into the following day.

This means that motorists are at risk of driving having consumed too much alcohol either because they did not know that they were over the limit or that they had not allowed sufficient time for their readings to fall back below the legal limit.

Tim Williamson, head of our Motoring Offences team, said: "This new research is extremely interesting and just goes to show the importance of driver education. The easiest way to avoid a conviction for drink driving and the mandatory disqualification that follows is to avoid drinking altogether where driving is contemplated either in the immediate aftermath of consumption or the following morning. Christmas is a time for great celebration, but all those attending Christmas parties this year really do need to be aware of not only their limits but the legal drink drive limit."

About the Author

Tim is a leading Criminal and Regulatory lawyer, who defends businesses and individuals under investigation by the police and regulatory bodies and when accused of criminal offences.

Tim Williamson
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