Car Insurance and drugs and alcohol

drink driving

Do you know how drinking and drugs impact on car insurance? 

“No claim will be paid if the driver is found to be under the influence of either drugs or alcohol.” This applies to all private and business vehicle insurance and for the first time the point is now being emphasised by insurance companies and brokers at the point of renewal or quotation.

The UK rollout of roadside drug testing has been criticised recently. The program has had very marked regional variations, with some police forces being far more aggressive in its implementation than neighbouring forces.

No data is yet available for its impact on drivers.

Business drivers and particularly businesses who are dependent on employees driving their vehicles have the double risk of both logistically losing a driver, but also facing having any insurance claim arising from an accident being declined by the insurance company. At this time it is not clear if this would extend to third party claims made against the driver, which may then be pursued personally against the driver and worst case, against the business who, it will be argued, may have irresponsibly allowed them to drive a company vehicle whilst ‘under the influence’.

It is recommended companies employing drivers take steps to ensure drivers are aware of the law and repercussions for driving with regard to drugs and alcohol. Where appropriate, the introducing of random screening can help both with awareness and with compliance. It also goes some way in allowing a defence against corporate neglect of duty.

The provision of “self-test” single-use breath test kits for alcohol, allow drivers to self-regulate when placed in a situation of having had alcohol in the last 8-10 hours (morning after the night before scenario )

Where appropriate, the introducing of random drug and alcohol screening can help both with awareness and with compliance. It also goes some way in allowing a defence against corporate neglect of duty.

Contact UK Drug Testing for drug and alcohol testing kits and for help implementing a screening programme at work.

Should drink driving rules for newly qualified drivers be different?

The UK’s current legal limit allowing you to drive with alcohol in your system is 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres – in most of Europe, the legal limit is often between 20 and 50 milligrams per 100 millilitres of blood, showing that the UK is actually more lenient than many countries…but are we too lenient?

It’s already well-known that newly qualified drivers have more accidents than those who are more experienced. In fact, research has shown that newly-qualified drivers can be up to 2 seconds slower at recognising possible hazards and  dangers than more experienced drivers – and this is without the influence of alcohol!

If this is the case, then why is it that newly-qualified drivers can drink the same amount of alcohol as those who are more experienced and still get away with it? Surely it’d make sense to reduce their allowance?

But what does society class as a ‘newly qualified driver’? Is it someone who’s been driving for a year? Half a year? Yet, some people will drive every day, others only once per week. Should we ask the drivers to clock their miles? It all seems a little much.

Nonetheless, something needs to be done. In the UK, only one in eight drivers license holders are under the age of 25 – yet one in three deaths are caused by drivers under the age of 25. On top of this, one in five new drivers is involved in a crash within their first year of driving. Surely, drinking won’t help this?

Arguably, a lot of drink-driving related accidents take place at night. Statistically, a newly qualified driver is much more likely to make a mistake in the dark – and it’s not difficult to see why. Lowering the drink-driving allowance for those who are newly qualified is likely to reduce the number of accidents that take place later in the evening.

From these factors alone, it is clear to see that drink-driving is an extremely serious hazard which needs to be tackled. It is highly unlikely that the issue will ever completely be put to a stop, but it is definitely within our power to reduce the number of accidents that occur. The only question is: how far should we go?

The dangers of drinking and driving

It’s a well-known fact that driving whilst intoxicated is extremely dangerous not only to yourself but to others around you…in fact, despite the fact that drink driving in Britain has substantially decreased over the years, around 250 people die in crashes each year due to someone being over the drink driving limit – and it might not even be their fault! Yet people still continue to drink and drive all over the UK. The worst and most frightening prospect about all of this, is that every single death and injury caused by drink driving is completely preventable.

Technically, there is no way that you can calculate how much alcohol you can drink in order to stay below the limit, as it depends on a variety of factors including age, weight, sex and metabolism, as well as the type of alcohol you’re drinking and how much you’ve eaten recently…even your stress levels can have an effect. So really, it’s better just to be on the safe side and not drink any alcohol at all. If you are caught driving above the limit, you will be arrested. The police will then carry out a breathalyser test. If you are caught drink driving, you can be banned from the roads for twelve months and fined up to around £5,000 – a huge price to pay for one reckless mistake!

Drinking actually affects a person’s driving ability much more than they probably realise. It can affect a person’s entire coordination – the brain will take longer to receive messages from the eyes (which may be experiencing blurred or double vision) and processing the information will be more difficult than for a sober person. It will also take a drinker longer to react, making accidents much more likely. So why not just book a taxi for one night, or ask a sober friend to drive you home safely?

So how soon after drinking is it safe to drive? Well, that depends entirely on how much you’ve consumed, and how long it has been since you consumed it. Just because you’ve been to sleep for a few hours, it doesn’t automatically mean that you can just get up and start driving the next morning -you could still be over the legal limit.
As a general rule, one unit of alcohol is removed from the body each hour. This is of course, only a general rule, and varies from person to person. There is nothing that can be done to speed up this process, but if your liver is damaged or isn’t working properly, it may take even longer.

Just remember – driving while intoxicated kills. These are real people out on the road, with families and fully functioning lives of their own. Do you really want to put them in danger as well as yourself? So next time, instead of clambering behind the wheel drunk after a big night out, ask a sober friend if they wouldn’t mind giving you a lift, or get a taxi. It might seem expensive, but if you look at the damage you could do sitting behind that wheel, it’s not a big price to pay. Likewise, if one of your friends has had too much to drink, do the right thing – take away their keys and call a taxi – they’ll thank you for it later!

UK Police launch their summer drink driving campaign

The UK police have today launched their summer drink driving campaign to deter motorists from driving while over the limit. The limit in England and wales is currently 80mg per 100 ml of blood (0.08% BAC). The UK government is coming under increasing pressure to lower the UK drink driving levels in line with the most of rest of Europe. Scotland recently announced their plans to lower the limit in Scotland to 50mg/ 100ml (0.05% BAC) in line with France, Ireland and most other EU countries . In some European countries the limits for newly qualified drivers are even lower at 0.02% BAC.

It is thought that this year the police will also be targeting motorists on their way to work who may still be over the limit the morning after.

Scotland Drink Driving Law | Scotland leads the way on drink driving for UK

The Scottish parliament has followed other European countries such as France and Germany and reduced the drink driving prosecution levels from 80mg to 50 mg. The new law is expected to come into force later this year and will mean motorists could be within the legal limits in England and over the limit when they cross the border into Scotland.

Nurse found guilty for sitting in the drivers seat of a car under the influence of alcohol

Being in charge of a motor vehicle while over the legal drink driving limits is an offence, if the court believes that your intent was to drive the vehicle.

A nurse has recently been found guilty of being drunk in charge of a vehicle because she was sitting in the drivers seat of her car with the keys in the ignition and was 5 times over the legal limit even though she was not actually driving.

Click here to read the full story

You can purchase digital breathalsyers, single use breath alcohol testers and alcohol tests online in UK from Value Breathalysers 

Breathalysers ~ reducing your risk

With unemployment amongst white collar workers at an all time high and rising, this is not the time to take any risks with your current employment. Loss of your driving license may not immediately be seen as critical to your employment role, but the fact won’t go unnoticed and at the very least will cost you dearly.

Most of us don’t drink and drive, or at least don’t plan to. It’s the unplanned events which catch us out, the lunch time meeting where your glass gets refilled unnoticed. The morning after when we have an early start. The unexpected call, when you wern’t expecting to have to work, in effect, modern jobs are no longer 9-5 and mobile phones and peer pressure mean we are always expected to be available.

It’s these situations where access to a breathalyser can be invaluable. If its telling your employer with conviction that you are unable to travel, this may be mopre acceptable. In these situations a digital measure should not be undervalued, as alcohol reduces our ability to judge how we are functioning.

The use of most breathalysers has been designed to be single button with tonal indicators of when and how long to blow. Modern units will not give a reading unless the proceedure is completed, making self testing while under the influence more reliable.

Modern digital breathalyers such as the DA5000 breathalyser from Valuebreathalysers offer all this technology for under £50.00 These hand held breathalyser units also have alarm settings at 0.05%BAC well below the UK current prosecution level of 0.08%BAC (correct at time of publishing) giving users a significant warning margin should they approach the legal levels.

All users would advise drivers not to drive until the alcohol blood levels are no longer measurable, as all alcohol will reduce performance. By measuring the blood levels after drinking, breathalysers can help users judge how their body clears alcohol, and help plan and avoid any alcohol drunk during the week and week end.

Click here for more information about digital breathalysers

“Drug Driving” on the increase

1 in 10 young drivers have been in charge of a vehicle while under the influence of drugs

A new report by the RAC also shows that a quarter have been in a car when they suspect the driver has had drugs that may affect their ability to safely drive.

The report calls for better education on the effects of street drugs and prescription medication to mirror the campaigns for alcohol, targeted at young drug users.

Visit to read RAC 2009 report on drugs and driving

Drug testing kits UK

How does a drink driving conviction affect your life ?

About 10 years ago I worked with a man who received a drink driving conviction and was banned from driving for 12 months. He was a professional man and well respected in the local community, and  a car was essential for his job.

It was one of those silly things. His teenage daughter had gone out with friends into the local town for the evening, and was coming back with her friends-another parent was supposed to be picking them up. He settled in for the evening with his wife, the TV and had a few of bottles of beer. About 9pm he got a phone call from his daughter-she had a teenage crisis and needed picking up immediately. Both he and his wife had been drinking. he thought he was OK and anyway the roads were quiet, and were mainly country roads into the town.

He set off. He had not reached the town when he was stopped by a police car, who had been following him on the empty country road for some time. Although he was not aware of it, something about his driving alerted the police man. He may have been speeding as he was worried about his daughter (it was winter & dark & cold)-teenagers ! He was not aware the police car was following him until he saw the flashing blue lights-he just thought it was another car in the dark.

The police car pulled him over and he was breathalysed and found to be well over the limit. He had still not retrieved his daughter and had to ring his wife to arrange for a friend to go a pick his daughter up. (valuable lesson here-when your teenagers are out one of you should refrain from drinking that night, in case you have to retrieve them quickly)

He was taken to a police station, and given a blood test which found he was well over the limits and he was prosecuted.

How did losing his license affect his life:

  • very stressful
  • embaressing for him-having to explain to people why he could not drive
  • inconvenient-he had to wait for other people to drive him around
  • expensive-as he drove every day with his job he had to hire a full time chaffeur

These are inconveniences-imagine the affect on his lfe if he had had an accident or injured or killed someone because of his drink driving

He learned a valuable lesson, and fortunatley no one was injured.

Make sure you THINK before you drink and drive

Drink Driving & THINK

The breathalyser test was introduced on british roads in 1967, and since that time has prevented many accidents and deaths on the roads.

THINK! runs two major drink drive campaigns every year, in summer and at Christmas, using a variety of media including TV, cinema, radio, posters in pub washrooms, outdoor advertising and partnership marketing campaigns.

If you drive at twice the current legal alcohol limit, you are at least 30 times more likely to cause a road crash than a driver who has not been drinking.

The THINK! strategy for drink driving is to remind all drivers of the personal consequences of drink driving, and that a drink driving conviction can ruin your life.

Our campaigns focus on the ‘moment of doubt’ around the second pint, when drivers are considering whether or not to have another drink. 

Click here to read more about how THINK! is helping to reduce the number of road accidents caused by drink driving.