As an injury solicitor I deal with road accidents everyday and the circumstances that cause them can vary wildly. Whilst speeding, failing to consider road conditions or simple lack of concentration are all common, avoidable causes, it's those that involve drink driving which I find the hardest to understand.
According to the Government, there are still several hundred deaths on our roads each year caused by drink driving. Worryingly 2012 saw the figure for drink-driving fatalities rise from 230 in 2011 to 290. This is the first time the number has risen year on year since 2006.
Of course the numbers have reduced dramatically since the 70's and 80's when drink drive deaths were closer to 1,000 per year, but to see a rise is none the less concerning.
So what are the drink drive limits?
The legal limit for drivers in the UK is:
- • 35 microgrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath
- • 80 milligrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood
- • 107 milligrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of urine
Taken from www.gov.uk/drink-drive-limit
It is however impossible to say what this equates to in terms of number and strength of drink as each individual is different. Even if you have 'just the one' alcoholic drink, this could be enough to adversely affect your reactions and tip you over the limit.
There are various self testing kits out there which you could use if you want to test yourself before you get behind the wheel. I propose though, that if you are concerned enough to want to test yourself before you set out on your journey, chances are you know you are at least border line and perhaps shouldn't be driving.
Drink Driving and the Festive Season
The Christmas party season is almost upon us, and it saddens me to think that there will without doubt be loss of innocent life between now and the end of the year, owing to alcohol induced accidents on our roads.
I urge everyone to be sensible over the party season, and there are many safe options to consider:
- • Nominate a driver
- • Use public transport
- • Book a taxi
- • Stay over instead of trying to get home
The key is planning ahead. Most people (myself included) like to enjoy a drink, especially at this time of year, and we all know how hard it can be to flag taxies or arrange lifts on a busy night in town; but with a little foresight and forward planning you will avoid endangering yourself and others, and steer clear of the heavy penalties for being caught behind the wheel whilst over the limit.
Do not forget that if you are caught you could receive a six month prison sentence, a £5,000 fine and a driving ban. If you cause death by careless driving whilst under the influence of alcohol, the penalties could be up to 14 years in prison and an unlimited fine. These are life changing consequences and should not be underestimated.
You should also think about what you will be doing the following day; if you have had a heavy night and drive to work the next morning, there is a real chance you will still be over the limit. A strong coffee or cold shower might help to cure your hangover, but nothing will rid your system of the alcohol, other than the passage of time.
A Zero Tolerance Approach?
Personally, I am in favour of a complete ban on any alcohol in your system if you are going to drive a vehicle. This way we all know that even one is too many, thus reducing the temptation to 'just have one more' or ‘one for the road’.
Through my work in the catastrophic injury team at Spencers Solicitors I see the consequences of the loss of life on our roads all too often; lost fathers, husbands, sons or daughters, taken so unexpectedly - it is tragic, and if ever there was an incentive not to drink and drive the families left behind to pick up the pieces are it.
I will be staying over at a hotel for our office Christmas party this year, what will you be doing?
About the author
Louisa Chambers is a Solicitor and Chartered Legal Executive within Spencers catastrophic injury team. Louisa deals with cases that involve serious injuries occurring as a result of road traffic accidents.