Drink Driving – What is the Limit?

by MJP solicitors on November 20, 2012

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A fairly well know fact is that the UK’s drink drive limit is 80 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood (also known as BAC), 35 microgrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath or 107 microgrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of urine.  But what does this mean in the real-world? 5 shots of Vodka? 1 glass of wine?

We’re All Different

Your weight, age, even the amount of stress you are under can have an affect on how your body breaks down the consumed alcohol and therefore makes it difficult to judge how much you can drink before going over the legal drink driving limit.

Another consideration to take into account is the type of alcohol that is being consumed.  Drinks with  a higher alcohol concentration level will usually be absorbed more quickly, as do carbonated drinks (such as champagne).

One more consideration is the amount of food consumed as an empty stomach will allow the alcohol to be absorbed more quickly.

One for the Road

Once alcohol is consumed and enters your bloodstream it remains in your body can break it down. This process will usually take approximately an hour to process a unit of alcohol – 1 unit being a single measure of spirits(40% – 25ml) or a bottle of 3% beer.

Taking the points above into consideration, a hungry and small person may be over the drink drive limit by drinking one pint whereas another person may be able to consume more. It is therefore possible to still be over the limit the next day after a heavy night drinking, even after a long sleep.

Take it or Leave it

In short, it’s impossible to calculate exactly how much you can consume before being over the legal limit.

If you’re going out with friends and need to drive then it’s best not to drink at all. Avoiding all forms of alcohol before driving is the best way to avoid getting on the wrong side of the law. If you know you’re going to be having a drink then leave the car at home and get a taxi or a lift from a friend.

If you are pulled over and are found to be over the prescribed limit then you will be taken to a local police station to be breathalysed on the calibrated machines. If you are unable to use the machine, or the machine is unavailable, then a urine or blood sample may be taken. If these tests come back positive then you will be charged under the Section 5 Road Traffic Act 1988, at this point you should seek legal advice from an experienced drink driving solicitor.

From this point onwards the solicitor will look into the procedures taken and whether they were correctly followed as well as ensuring that the machines and samples were calibrated and not contaminated.

If the solicitor finds that procedures have been followed, and a guilty plea is unavoidable, they will be able to mitigate on your behalf at court. Allowing a solicitor to mitigate on your behalf will give you a better chance of getting a more lenient sentence, although it is possible to mitigate yourself.

About the author: MJP solicitors are a criminal defence practice based in the UK who defending clients against allegations of criminal offences, including motoring offences such as drink driving.

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