Morning after drinkers on the rise

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According to insurance company LV, an increasing number of drivers are being caught over the drink drive limit, having gone out on the lash the night before.

Figures collated by the company show that the number of drivers arrested between 6am and 8am – for being over the drink drive limit – increased from 350 in 2011 to 363 in 2012.

The data was collected from 22 of the 45 police forces across England and Wales, so the picture isn’t complete – but it indicates a worrying trend of drivers failing to think about the dangers of driving too soon after a heavy night out. 

When caught over the limit, the typical morning after driver is still five hours away from being sober enough to drive

Even more worrying is the fact that when caught over the limit, the typical morning after driver is still five hours away from being sober enough to drive.

As well as quizzing police forces, LV also surveyed 1688 drivers and found that: 

  • 37% said driving the following morning was "unavoidable"
  • 26% said they were driving only a short distance
  • 7% thought it was acceptable to drive if they were not on a motorway
  • 13% thought they were only slightly over the limit so it didn’t matter
  • Men are more than three times as likely as women to be caught out
  • On average, morning after drivers consume 19 units of alcohol
  • Thames Valley Police made the highest number of arrests - 4783 - for drink-driving between 2011 and 2012.

According to LV, within the past year one in 30 drivers has got behind the wheel while over the limit – that equates to over one million motorists.

A key problem is the lack of awareness among drivers about how long it takes alcohol to leave their system. When asked how long it would take someone who has drunk two pints of strong lager or six units of alcohol, to process the alcohol and be under the drink drive limit, 46% underestimated the time or had no idea.

The law says that a driver can have a maximum of 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood, 35mg per 100ml of breath or 107mg per 100ml of urine. This equates to about four units for an average man and two to three units for an average woman, and if a person has more than this in their system, they would be over the legal limit to drive.

Generally, it takes about an hour for the body to break down one unit of alcohol, but alcohol tolerance depends on a number of factors including a person’s age, weight, gender and metabolism.

So far in 2013, the drunkest driver was arrested by Bedfordshire Police and had 299mg of alcohol per 100ml of breath – meaning they were more than eight times over the legal limit.

For more about drink driving, check out our page on the subject.