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!

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 

Using a Home Breathalyzer- FAQs

What is the UK drink driving legal limt currently ?

Blood Alcohol Concentrations (BAC) – 80 milligrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres, 80mg/ml, 080 on mg/100ml display or 0.08 %BAC, 0.8 Promille

Breath Alcohol Concentrations (BrAC) – 35 microgrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath BrAC

What is the best buy for home breathalyser use ?

Higher price does not always mean higher accuracy, as the expensive breathalyser models are designed to be serviced regularly to maintain their accuracy and don’t have on board self diagnostics.

Here are some key points to consider when buying a DIY digital breathalyser:

1) Insist on interchangeable sensors – without this you are tied to sending the breathalyser regularly to a service centre for calibration services.

2) The breathalyser must have selectivity of no less than +/-0.01% BAC which is the same as +/- 10mg/100ml BAC. (avoid units with +/-0.02% and over)

3) Choose your display scale and stick to it, most digital breathalysers either display as %BAC or mg/100ml BAC  (BAC=Blood Alcohol Concentration) don’t confuse this with BrAC .(Breath Alcohol Concentration) which is available but rarer.

4) Be realistic, under £25 and you are getting a novelty device which you should not rely upon. Expect to pay £35-£70 for a digital breathalyser which will work well, give reliable readings, cost £15-20 to replace the sensor (every 300 tests or 6 monthly)

Can I rely on the results when choosing to drive ?

No. Breathalysers should not be used to test your ability to drive legally, as a breathalyser will measure only your current blood alcohol levels. These can rise after testing if the unit is being used immeditaely after drinking. Breathalysers should be used the morning after to confirm that alcohol has left the body.

Visit Value Breathalysers UK to see a range of breathalyser suitable for home use

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

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.

Are drink driving levels going to come down in line with Europe ?

Here is an extract from an article in The Times 21/4/09

 Britain used to have Europe’s safest roads. No longer. Over the past six years the Netherlands and Sweden have been able to boast of lower road death rates and more success in cutting the number of drink-related crashes. What has not changed is the British legal limit for drink-driving, which stands at 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood despite two abandoned efforts by the Government to bring it down in line with European norms.

A third effort is announced today. It deserves to survive the journey to the statute book.

Click here to read the full article online

Over a third of adults exceed daily limits for alcohol

Last month the Office for National Statistics published its findings from the general household survey

Over a third of adults exceeded the daily limits for regular drinking on at least one day during the week before interview despite growing awareness of safe drinking levels, annual data on smoking and drinking from the Office for National Statistics showed

Current advice on drinking is that men should not regularly drink more than three to four units of alcohol and women should not regularly drink more than two to three units. The General Household Survey (GHS) 2007 report shows that 37 per cent of adults exceeded the benchmark and 20 per cent of adults consumed more than double the benchmark on their heaviest drinking day of the week