This time of year the media is full of good advice telling us not to drink and drive. Injuries and deaths from accidents caused by those who are later found to have been drink-driving cause untold misery in the UK and figures always peak at this time of year.
The consequences of losing your license from being charged with drink driving are far more serious than many realise. Firstly it takes 11 years to have the endorsement removed from your driving license although, rather confusingly drink-driving convictions are legally spent after 5 years which creates some interesting issues about disclosure to insurance companies and you might want to check the Ombudsman’s Website for advice about that. Secondly your insurance costs increase massively following a conviction, and again, can take many years to return to normal premiums. The cost of the fine can be in excess of £1000, but the overall costs of losing your license, especially if you need your vehicle to commute to work or worse still to run your business can be unimaginably high when you consider that you cannot then drive for at least 12 months.
For most people the thought of having no vehicle for that long is unimaginable. Its not just commuting but things like shopping, visiting people, holidays… you probably don’t realise how much you rely on your car until you lose it. So when you factor in up to 10 years of higher premiums, the fine, the cost of taxis and public transport etc you could be looking at costs in excess of £10,000. That’s serious money and serious hassle.
It’s just not worth it.
Our government have done a great job of turning public perceptions around and drink-driving is now widely frowned upon, with many people refusing to be driven by someone who is clearly not fit to drive. Some people are now bold enough to challenge others who they know are planning to drive when not fit due to alcohol consumption, so things are improving.
Relying on official guidelines about how many drinks you can consume is also very risky. Simply assuming that two pints of beer is fine is not reliable as everybody metabolises alcohol at different rates and the alcohol breath level can depend on other factors such as how often you drink, your weight and what you have eaten and when. With all these variables at play we feel the only safe thing is not to chance it at all but to breathalyse yourself every time you drink before driving.
There are a range of breathalyser on offer in the UK ranging from cheap, single-use units that give a reasonably good idea of where you are on the scale of drunkenness, right up to police grade units, which will emulate exactly the results you would get if stopped and tested by the police.
The unit featured above is an Alcovisor Mark X and costs around £280. It has exactly the same sensor as most UK police breathalyser units and provides extremely accurate readings so you know if you pass on this machine you are guaranteed to be legal to drive.
It is, however, very important to remind readers that alcohol takes time to be absorbed into the system so you need to wait at least 20 minutes from your last drink before you can get an accurate result. If you test before 20 minutes from your last drink the level of alcohol in your system could, and probably will rise. On the flip side however, larger men and regular drinkers could have a welcome surprise. Some have found that they are able to drink more than the recommended 2 pints and still be under the limit due to faster, natural metabolism. The official stats are that we lose about 1 unit an hour. The reality for many though is that they metabolise alcohol much quicker, making them able to drink more before driving and also making them far less likely to be over the limit in the morning after a heavy night out, or in. If one consumes 3 pints over an evening and can metabolise 2 units an hour, then thats about 6 units metabolised by the time they think about driving, which means they could have as little as 3 units in their system, which is under the legal limit. Sadly it is mostly male regular drinkers who will find this result, and smaller framed women who are not regular drinkers will likely find the opposite. Either way, it is deeply reassuring to know exactly where you stand before you put the keys into the ignition.
With such high stakes we feel that the investment is probably one of the best ones you could ever make. Don’t leave anything to chance, especially if, like us, you rely on your driving license for your livelihood.
Have a fabulous Crimbo and New Year. Enjoy wine, enjoy life, but please be safe and be sensible.
Beaconsfield Wine has no interest, affiliation or financial arrangement with any suppliers or any other incentive to promote any particular product and this article is purely for your information. The item featured is the unit I use.