Learning to drive

The reality of drink and drug driving

Drink, drugs and driving don’t mix. Fortunately, millennials are drinking less than their parents. According to one recent survey, only 1-in-10 see getting drunk as “cool”. As many as 4-in-10 see it as “pathetic” or “embarrassing”. So, if your mates think you’re an idiot as you stagger home from the pub, imagine how they’ll react if you reach for your car keys?

Most drivers, young or old, wouldn’t dream of drinking and driving. But there’s still a core of offenders who think they can get away with it, or simply don’t care.

Some 240 people were killed in drink-drive incidents in 2016, according to government statistics. Of course, it’s not only the drunk drivers who got hurt. There were 100 pedestrians killed or seriously injured by drunk drivers, and 40 children.

Drug driving is just as serious. Driving with more than the specified level of 17 legal and illegal drugs is against the law. Even small quantities could put you over the limit. And if you do have a crash while high on drugs, they could interfere with the medecines used to try to save your life.

The morning after the night before

It’s wrong to assume that a night’s sleep and a strong cup of coffee will make you safe to drive after a night of hard drinking.

A lot of drivers are caught out the morning after when the level of alcohol in their blood is still above legal levels. If you’re tempted to take the risk, remember it’s not just about whether the police will catch up with you – there’s also the issue of whether or not you crash because your driving is impaired.

 

Drink driving survival guide

  • Don’t try to calculate if you’ve had enough to put you over the drink-drive limit, just don’t drink and drive.
  • Drinks poured at some are usually larger than pub measures – don’t underestimate how much you’ve had.
  • If you drive to a party and drink more than you expect to, don’t risk it. Book yourself a taxi or arrange for a friend or family member to pick you up.

Breathalyser myths

  • Strong coffee will sober me up – Only time rids your body of alcohol, caffeine in coffee can’t keep you alert and restore your judgement.
  • Bigger people can handle their alcohol better – Body size can affect the rate alcohol is absorbed, but individually metabolism, the amount of rest you’ve had and when you last are are key factors, too.
  • Drink lots of water – A breathalyser measures the alcohol in the air in your lungs, so this one’s a non-starter.

The penalties

Drink or drug driving brings a minimum 12-month ban. You could face six months in jail or a £5000 fine, or even both. Too much alcohol means over 80mg per 100ml of blood (50mg in Scotland). Refusal to provide a sample carries the same punishments as providing samples above the legal limit. Kill someone due to drink driving and you face up to 14 years behind bars and a ban of at least two years.

 

Wheel life

After a night out drinking, Marc Lutman took his fathers car with his best mate Ian Deer in the passenger seat. They crashed, and Ian died from his injuries. In court, Marc was sentenced to three years and four months in prison. Harsh? Marc doesn’t think so. “If there weren’t cases like mine, how many more teenagers would get in a car after having a drink, and end someones life?” he says.