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Driving the morning after


After an evening's drinking how long does it take for the body to process the alcohol so that you're within the legal limit for driving?


The legal limit for driving in the UK is 80 milligrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood and it is certainly possible that on the morning after a night out you might still be over the legal limit. 

According to Road Safety Scotland, it can take up to 12 hours to be safe to drive after drinking one bottle of wine or four pints of strong lager. The rule of thumb is that each unit of alcohol takes about an hour to process.   

However, it's difficult to generalise about alcohol because it affects different people in different ways depending on factors including gender, physical shape, the rate of drinking and whether you ate before going out. The impact of an evening's drinking will also depend on what you drink - since different drinks have different alcohol levels in them - and how much you drank.

The best advice is always to be on the safe side. That means don't drink any alcohol if you plan to drive the same evening and, if you have been drinking, don't drive the morning after if there's a chance you might still be affected. There are no quick fixes for getting rid of alcohol - a shower or cup of coffee won't make any difference, it just takes time.

The dangers of driving under the influence of alcohol include: 

  • Slower reactions;
  • Increased stopping distance;
  • Poorer judgement of speed and distance;
  • Reduced field of vision.

3,000 people are killed or seriously injured on our roads each year in drink drive related crashes and nearly one-in-six of all deaths on the road involve drivers who are over the legal limit. You don't have to be in a crash to be breath tested - around 100,000 drivers are convicted every year for drink driving.

Updated: 12/04/2010

Question answered by Addaction

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