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Driving the morning after the night of the Christmas Party

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At this festive time of year, more drivers are willing to risk driving the morning after a boozy Christmas party – one in five drivers admit to driving the morning after they drank a significant amount of Alcohol the night before, according to research by the charity Brake.

Insurers LV report that arrests for drink driving between 06:00 and 08:00 rose from 350 in 2011 to 363 in 2012 – an increase of 4%. The research suggests drivers fail to understand that just because its the morning after, that you are no longer affected by alcohol and over the drink drive limit.

“Many drivers who would not consider driving after a night in the pub fail to recognise the influence of alcohol on their body the next day, or simply choose to ignore its effects,” says Alice Granville, policy and research analyst from the Institute of Advanced Motoring.

Whether you are under the drink drive limit the following morning depends on how much alcohol you have consumed and if you’ve left enough time for your system to rid the alcohol form your system.

“The amount of alcohol in your bloodstream depends on three things,” says Dr Paul Wallace, Drinkaware’s Chief Medical Adviser. “The amount you take in, over what period of time and the speed at which your body gets rid of it.”

In general, alcohol is removed from the blood at the rate of about one unit an hour. But this varies from person to person. It can depend on your size and gender, as men tend to process alcohol quicker than women; how much food you’ve eaten; the state of your liver, and your metabolism (how quickly or slowly your body turns food into energy).

The best advice, if you don’t want to risk being over the legal drink drive limit is to avoid alcohol altogether the night before you have to drive. You can’t speed up the process – There is nothing you can do to speed up the rate alcohol leaves your system. Black coffee and high energy drink s have no impact upon the alcohol level in your body.

“Having a cup of coffee or a cold shower won’t do anything at all to get rid of the alcohol,” says Dr Wallace. “They may make you feel slightly different, but they haven’t eliminated the alcohol in any way.”

The law is clear on driving with alcohol in your system the morning after the night before – it is not a defence to drink driving. The fact the sentence imposed by the Court for any drink driving offence is not reduced because of when a driver has consumed alcohol. Driving a motor vehicle whilst over the legal limit, irrespective of when the alcohol is consumed relative to the time of the offence, is a criminal offence. If you are convicted of drink driving you will be disqualified from driving for at least 12 months.

If you have any doubt that you may be over the drink drive limit the morning after the night before, do not drive and make alternative transport arrangements.