Is it Safe to Drive the Morning After?

Is it Safe to Drive the Morning After?

How you could be getting into your car over the drink drive limit without even knowing it.

One in five drivers in the UK have admitted to driving their cars after they’d drunk a lot of alcohol the night before.

Drink driving above the legal limit at night is on the decline in this country. However this is not the case in the mornings and many people could be breaking the law each day without even being aware of it.

Some drivers do not understand that just because you’ve had a night’s sleep, it does not necessarily mean that alcohol is not still affecting your body. Many drivers who would not consider using their car after a night in the pub, seem unconcerned about how the booze they had the night before is influencing their body the next day.

Drink Driving In England and Wales

In England and Wales the alcohol limit for drivers is as follows:

  • In Blood –  80 milligrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood
  • In Urine – 107 milligrammes per 100 millilitres of urine
  • In Breath –  35 microgrammes per 100 millilitres of breath

Generally the limit in most European countries is less, generally 50 milligrammes per 100 millilitres of blood.

Drink Driving Limit In Scotland

Since December 2014, Scotland has different drink drive limits to the rest of the UK. The Scottish Government changed the drink drive limit to bring the country in line with most of Europe and to make Scotland’s roads safe and save lives.

In Scotland the alcohol limit for drivers is as follows:

  • In Blood –  50 milligrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood
  • In Urine – 67 milligrammes per 100 millilitres of urine
  • In Breath –  22 microgrammes per 100 millilitres of breath

The Don’t Risk It campaign site has more information on the drink driving limit in Scotland.

Can You Not Just Sleep It Off?

The amount of alcohol that you drank the night before will determine if you are fit to drive your car the next morning. Also you will need to have left yourself enough time for the alcohol to have left your system. Three things determine exactly how much alcohol is in your bloodstream  – the amount you have taken in, the time period involved and how quickly your body has got rid of it.

As a rule of thumb, one unit of alcohol will leave your body every hour. This is not the same for everybody though and can vary from person to person, depending on size and gender. Men process alcohol quicker than women. The amount of food that you have eaten will also make a difference.  The health of your liver and your metabolism are two more factors.

You can’t speed the process up either. A cup of black coffee or a cold shower will make no difference. Either of these might make you feel different but they won’t have eliminated the alcohol in any way.

Know Your Units

If you do consider drinking the next day it’s important to know when your last drink was and how much you’ve had.

Different drinks have different alcoholic strengths. Beer can start at just 3.0% but is generally 5% or 6% for some of the better, continental lagers. Wine can vary in alcoholic strength from 9% to 15%. It pays to check the labels of what you are drinking to know exactly how much you have had. Use an online Unit and Calorie calculator to make sure.

Take A Breathalyser Test!

A breathalyser test is used by the Police to check that you are fit to drive. More and more companies now use them to check employees are safe to operate vehicles. Breathalysers such as the AL6000 and AL7000 are so inexpensive and reliable now, even individuals can afford to own them for checking their personal alcohol levels.

As well as conventional breathalysers, single-use breathalysers are also available, such as the Test & Drive disposable breathalyser. These inexpensive devices cost just ta few pounds and are small and light enough to be carried out with you in your bag or pocket.

It’s Christmas Party Time

We’re coming up on the most wonderful time of the year, and people are going to be enjoying their Christmas parties – complete with alcohol. Is it possible to enjoy yourself at the Christmas party and still be safe to make the commute to work the morning after?

The good news is that you can enjoy a drink with your friends and family without drinking too much with some preparation and planning.

Here Are 20 Tips to Stay Safe While Still Enjoying Yourself This Christmas Season!

  1. Plan Ahead. Decide ahead of time who will drive you to and from the party, if you are using public transport, walking, or getting a taxi. Also plan how much alcohol you’ll be drinking and exactly what you’ll be drinking. It’s best to not mix drinks during a Christmas party.
  2. If You Want to Drive, Then Avoid Drinking Entirely Avoid drinking alcohol if you are planning on driving yourself. Plan ahead and decide on what you’ll be drinking instead, and don’t be afraid to take your own non-alcoholic drinks if it is being held at a house.
  3. Have Something to Eat Before Leaving If having a meal is part of the celebrations, it could be a while until you get to eat something. By that point you’ll have likely consumed a good amount of alcohol. Having food in your stomach slows down alcohol absorption, which helps you maintain control when drinking.
  4. Have Long Drinks Rather Than Short Ones Short drinks are the fastest and easiest way to get drunk. If you want a short drink, then it’s best to have it in a tall glass with a mixer. A good choice for this is to have a gin and tonic. Stick with singles though, and avoid getting doubles.
  5. Drink From a Straight-Sided Glass A study conducted by the University of Bristol found that drinking from a straight glass results in you drinking 60 per cent slower than if the glass has curved sides. It’s all to do with your brain and how it calculates how much you have drunk. A glass with straight sides let’s you see how much you have drunk and the brain regulates accordingly.
  6. Sit Down According to experts, when you stand up, you will drink quicker than when you are sat down. So sit down and you will slow down!
  7. Mix It Up. If you company is hosting the party, why nut suggest that they offer a selection of tasty mocktails? Try pineapple, strawberry juice, lime juice, soda water and mint together. These ingredients can be shaken up into a delicious alcohol-free tipple that is far from boring.
  8. Stay on Top of How Much You’ve Been Drinking It’s all too easy to lose track of how much you’ve drank. Everyone has been in that position. Make either a mental or physical note of how many units you’ve consumed.
  9. Don’t Drink Too Quickly Knocking back booze quickly makes it more difficult to know how alcohol is affecting you. Slow down & set yourself a time limit before you take your next drink.
  10. Avoid Drinking In Rounds There’s nothing wrong with buying your colleagues or staff a drink, but when you are in a large group it can rapidly turn into a heavy drinking session, as well as being an expensive one!
  11. Take a Bottle of Water or Order a Large Glass of Water at the Party Drink water regularly during the evening to dilute the alcohol you’ve consumed while also reducing how much alcohol you drink overall. Give yourself something else to drink.
  12. Keep Track of Wine Intake It’s common for your colleagues and friends to fill your glass for you without you noticing or keeping track. It makes drinking too much wine in a social setting a common occurrence, and it’s something you’ll likely regret. Choose white wine spritzers and consider diluting wine using sparkling water. Having a bottle of sparkling water for the table is a great idea because you have the option of using it to fill up your wine glass. Also keep in mind that wine glasses are not created equal and can be different sizes. A large glass of wine is about 250ml, and it holds up to three units of alcohol. This is to say nothing of the larger glasses which hold even more.
  13. Hit The Dance Floor It’s much more difficult to dance when you have a pint or wine class in your hand (unless you want to spill it all over your co-workers!) Get moving on the dance floor and forget about the drink.
  14. Don’t drink too late Exactly when you should stop drinking can depend on when you plan on waking up in the morning and what you’ll be doing that day. There are several factors involved in how long it takes alcohol to leave your system, including the total amount you have drank, your weight, your own naturally ability to process alcohol, and more.
  15. Stop Drinking When You Get Drunk or Feel Unwell Feeling drunk or unwell is the number one sign that it’s time to move to water, have a soft drink, or eat something to feel better.
  16. Go home at a decent hour It is a criminal offence to drive a car or use machinery while over the legal drink driving limit. Most companies take a zero-tolerance approach to being under the influence while working, and some have even ordered disposable breathalyser kits for the party bags they hand out to employees during the party. They allow workers to check themselves in the morning to ensure they are free from alcohol.
  17. Set a Drink Limit Ahead of Time Set a limit for yourself ahead of the party on how many alcoholic drinks you will have. It can be just 1 or 2 drinks. Decide this beforehand so you are less tempted in the moment to have more than you planned.
  18. Order Virgin Cocktails Many bars now offer delicious “virgin” versions of popular cocktails, minus the alcohol. Order one of these fancy drinks so you don’t feel left out for not drinking. Some tasty options are virgin mojitos, piña coladas, margaritas, and daiquiris.
  19. Try the “One and Done” Rule Alternate each alcoholic drink with a non-alcoholic one. So if you start with a glass of wine, follow it with a sparkling water or mocktail. This will slow down your alcohol intake.
  20. Make Friends with the Bartender Let the bartender know ahead of time if you want to limit your drinking. Ask them to make your drinks with less alcohol, or even pour you fake drinks that just look alcoholic. Bartenders want patrons to be safe, so they are usually happy to help with this.

If you are worried that you might still have alcohol in your system then the safest thing to do is just not drive.

  • Around 1 in 5 drink driving accidents occur the day after the alcohol was consumed
  • Don’t assume that just because you haven’t drank anything since the previous night that it is safe for you to drive. Alcohol can remain in your system for several hours.

Safer Staff Parties

Health & Safety at Work Act regulations, as well as most company policies, deem that you are not allowed to drink at work during working hours. Of course this doesn’t stop you from drinking after hours especially if there’s a party. The problem is that most of the time people have to get home on their own and that leaves them prone to many alcohol-related incidents.

The best thing that you can do is to focus on using safe driving habits. While there, avoid drinking too much during parties. Yes, a lot of the times the fact that you feel good might overshadow this and you won’t really think about safety concerns.

Are There Risks?

You have to keep in mind that companies are not obliged by the law to drive their staff home once they leave their premises. It’s still in their best interests to do that, since these parties are mandatory and employees are encouraged to drink and eat.

This is a moral obligation, not to mention that any potential problems and absence of a key person can lead to issues. It actually costs a lot of money to find new staff, which is why it makes a lot of sense to make the necessary provisions and take care of the current staff to begin with.

That’s why the best approach here is to pay for all expenses and take care of your staff even after they leave your premises.

What Can Businesses Do?

A good idea here is to hire shuttle services. You will have a central area for drop-off, yet it can still be an issue here because those persons still have to get home on their own, and many times they didn’t have enough time to sober up.

Options to consider:

  • Your company can hire taxi services to ensure people get home and back without any issue.
  • They can also get taxi service vouchers that will subsidise the staff transport, which means staff will pay for the remaining stuff on their own.
  • In addition, companies can also incentivise some of the staff to sober up and become designated drivers for the other persons involved here.
  • The company can also agree with its staff to take the car keys for the event and offer them back only if the person in question passes a Breathalyser test. If you pass it, you can go home, otherwise someone else will have to take you home.

As you can see, there are plenty of options that companies can consider in order to abolish and eliminate drunk driving naturally. It’s important to share some educational material related to the blood alcohol limit and show that responsibility is crucial here. Of course, companies can also acquire disposable Breathalysers that will help staff identify toxicity levels and they will know whether it’s a good idea to drive on their own or not.

Photo Credit:  “Drinking and driving” (CC BY 2.0) by James Cridland

Zoom Testing is a leading UK drug testing company and a supplier of Drug Test Kits.

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