Tips to Stay Safe This Christmas:
‘Deciding to drink and drive could cost you dearly this Christmas' - that's the message from some constabularies in the UK as forces begin to launch their Christmas drink driving campaigns.
Christmas is typically a busy season for officers dealing with suspected drunk drivers as the festivities result in more motorists driving after consuming alcohol. This could be due to the fact that the number of occasions we consume alcohol during December is significantly higher than throughout the rest of the year – Christmas parties, markets, holidays, shopping trips, more time off work and family/friends visiting can all be occasions to have a drink.
The month-long operations initiated across the UK will see a clampdown on those suspected drink or drug drivers in an effort to deter motorists from committing an offence.
Some magistrates’ courts (Norwich and Ipswich for example) are allocating specific time slots to deal with those caught drinking or drug driving which means some offenders could lose their licence within 24 hours of being breathalysed.
This raises some concerns in respect of motorists having opportunity to seek proper advice before their court appearance.
Campaigns across the country will be run between 1st December to 1st January and there will be a significant increase in roadside checks throughout the day, including early morning checks. The public are also being encouraged to report any concerns relating to suspected drink or drug drivers anonymously via Crimestoppers.
With this in mind, we have put together some tips for helping avoid committing an offence this year and hopefully keep you and other road users safe:
- Plan Your Journeys & How to Get Home
We speak to so many clients who end up driving their vehicle due to an unexpected circumstance despite having the best intentions.
Running out of change for public transport, for example, can often tempt motorists to just jump into the car they had planned to leave in a car park overnight.
If you’re driving and then planning to drink, think ahead and have a plan on how to get home that evening:
- Set aside money for any fares to ensure you don’t come up stuck;
- Research the last bus and/or rail journeys;
- If you’re intending to leave your car somewhere overnight, make sure it is a place you are comfortable leaving it as you don’t want to have concerns about it not being left in a safe place and be tempted to move it after drinking; or
- Consider staying at a local friend’s house for the evening to avoid a journey home after drinking.
These are all examples of considerations you can make when planning a night out. If you plan ahead you are much less likely to find yourself in a position where you want to drive.
- Have a Designated Driver
If you and your friends are going out drinking over the festive season then take turns being the designated driver who does not drink on that particular day. This person can ensure that you all get home safely and can look forward to the next night out knowing they’ve already taken their turn to go alcohol-free.
- Never Assume You are Under the Limit
Many motorists consume alcohol and assume they are under the limit due to the small amount drank: “I’ve only had one pint” is something we hear on an almost daily basis.
Whilst it is somewhat reasonable to assume you are under the limit if you’ve only had a small quantity of alcohol, everybody is different. Whilst your friend might feel ok to drive after one pint it doesn’t mean that you are and there are so many factors that can affect your alcohol level. A person’s age, sex, height and weight can all affect how quickly their body metabolises alcohol.
Even if you’ve consumed alcohol and do not feel drunk it does not mean that you are under the limit. A police officer will not care how you feel if the breathalyser shows you are over the limit and you will receive little sympathy from other motorists if you are involved in an accident.
You should always err on the side of caution. The safest thing to do after drinking alcohol is not drive.
- Do Not Go Out on an Empty Stomach
Many people assume that eating a meal before drinking will help them stay under the limit but this is not quite true in some respects. If you’ve have a bottle of wine then you’ve consumed the same amount of alcohol whether you’ve eaten or not.
That said, eating a meal before drinking will slow the rate that your body absorbs the alcohol so you will hopefully stay sober for longer. The longer you stay sober the more likely you are to retain good judgement whereas if you drink on an empty stomach, the alcohol will affect you much more quickly and this can often lead to poor decision making and a disregard to consequences.
Eating a meal often means people drink less overall so there are various benefits to lining your stomach before drinking.
- Pace Yourself & Stay Hydrated
Another good practice to get into is by forcing yourself to slow your consumption rate and staying hydrated. Have a soft drink after each alcoholic one so you not only consume less alcohol overall but again, you will likely stay sober for longer.
Having a glass of water between alcoholic drinks will also help massively when it comes to avoiding a hangover!
- Be Careful the Morning After
Sleep in itself does not reduce the alcohol content in our body. Whilst it no doubt makes us feel better and more capable, the only thing that reduces the alcohol in our body is time.
If you’ve had a few hours’ sleep and feel fantastic the following morning after drinking (something I wish would happen to me at least once in my lifetime), you still need to consider the time of your last alcoholic drink and the overall quantity you consumed.
Online calculators can give you an indication of when your body may have metabolised the alcohol and be legal to drive but these should never be taken as 100% accurate due to the reasons outlined above.
If you’ve been drinking the night before, why not use that as an excuse to have a well-deserved lazy day of doing nothing and avoid the risk of drink driving?
Christmas is a fantastic season and everyone at Duncan Lewis Motor Law wants you to enjoy the festivities this year without having to speak to a drink driving solicitor. Consider the tips above and be sensible over Christmas.
If you do find yourself needing advice, however, then we are open throughout the Christmas period and can be reached on 0203 114 1145 for free advice every day!
Author Neil Sargeant is a Road Traffic specialist within the Duncan Lewis Crime Department, based in Harrow. He has specialised in Road Traffic Law since 2008, establishing close working relationships with some of the country’s leading experts in this field and maintaining an outstanding record of client acquittals. His specialist expertise stretch across road traffic law, but are is most extensive in:
Duncan Lewis Motor Law Solicitors
- Drink Driving (with breath, blood or urine samples);
- Drug Driving;
- Failing to provide a specimen for analysis whether this be breath, blood or urine;
- Being drunk in charge of a vehicle;
- Any type of road traffic case that involves a procedure conducted at hospital;
- Dangerous & Careless driving; and
- Cases involving a fatality.
Recognised by the independent directory Chambers & Partners as a top tier criminal defence practice, Duncan Lewis’ Crime department has a wide selection of services with a highly skilled team of solicitors. Our services include Motoring Law, with particular expertise in drug and alcohol-related motoring offences. We can provide free and comprehensive legal advice on any motoring prosecution, regardless of the allegations.
It is crucial that you seek legal advice immediately, as an early opinion in your case can make a significant difference to the end result. Duncan Lewis Solicitors can be on hand to deal with whatever motoring law issue you may have.
For specialist advice please call our Road Traffic specialist Neil Sargeant on 02031141145 or email him on firstname.lastname@example.org.