Swanswell urges drivers to think again about drinking over the festive season

07 December 2015

Swanswell, a national alcohol and drug recovery charity is urging people to think again about drinking if they’re planning to drive during the festive season. They’re warning drivers that if they fail a breath test a visit from Santa Claus isn’t all they can expect to receive this December. They’ll be arrested, prosecuted, banned from driving and may even receive a prison sentence.

Alcohol consumption traditionally increases by around 40% in December and the nation will consume the equivalent of 67 million bottles of wine or 261 million pints of beer over the month. Sadly that’s reflected in the number of people caught drink-driving.

In December 2014 in England and Wales, the number of breath test failures increased by a quarter from the previous month, a total of 6,686 – more than any other month in the year. In total, 5% of motorists tested failed a breath test, in contrast to 4.5% in December 2013.

Although the number of drink-driving convictions has fallen by a third in ten years, the message still hasn’t got through to everyone. In 2014 there were over 66,000 recorded  drink-driving offences,equivalent to 180 a day. The latest figures also show that alcohol was involved in around 260 road deaths. 

There’s no safe limit to drink and drive, just one drink will affect a driver’s reaction times and could be enough to put them over the legal limit. The impact alcohol has on each person will vary depending on a range of factors including weight, age, gender and food intake.

Also, many people still don’t understand how long it takes for alcohol to leave their system, putting them at risk of being over the limit the following morning. If a driver had five pints of 5% lager (2.8 units each), it would take at least 16 hours for the alcohol to leave their body and for it to be safe to drive. Similarly, five medium glasses (175ml) of 13% wine (2.3 units each) would take at least 13 hours to clear the system.

One in five drink-driving offences occur the morning after drinking, good evidence that new drivers need to be given more information sooner, says Swanswell. They’re calling for the introduction of a mandatory drink-driving workshop for new drivers which would be taken as part of the theory test.

Swanswell’s Chief Executive Debbie Bannigan said; ‘Many people think that after a fried breakfast and a shower they’re fine to drive the morning after drinking. The reality only sets in that they’re not when they’re pulled over by the police on the school run or on their way to work. A drink-driving conviction is for life, it’s not just for Christmas and they’ll have to live with the consequences for a long time. Worse still, they may kill or injure themselves, a loved one, another driver or pedestrian all because they didn’t know how long alcohol stays in the body.’

She added; ‘We’re all responsible for our own actions, however it seems strange that drink-driving education courses are only offered to people after they’ve offended. Why aren’t we offering new drivers more information about the risks and consequences of drink-driving? Wouldn’t this help them to make informed decisions about their relationship with alcohol before anyone offends?’

 

VIDEO: What happens when you're caught drink-driving (West Mercia Police)

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