As we build up to Christmas, the air has turned full of festive cheer. Offices are enjoying their parties, the pubs are bustling with joy, and of course Aunts and Uncles are feeling a little merry after one too many glasses of mulled wine.
But whilst Santa might think it’s ok to drink drive, enjoying his glass of sherry as he moves from chimney to chimney, Gloucestershire Police are urging people to avoid getting behind the wheel after a few festive tipples.
Almost every day in the run down to Christmas, one family will face the agony of a loved one lost to an alcohol related collision in the UK, along with thousands having their lives altered by the devastating consequences of drink driving.
In 2012, 280 people were killed on the road across Britain due to a driver under the influence, up 17% on the previous year, and it marks a worrying period for an offence that can carry a ban, a fine, and up to 14 years imprisonment.
The legal alcohol limit is 35 micrograms of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath, but with no assured way of knowing whether you’re over the limit, you could be putting yourself, and others, at a huge risk.
Alcohol affects each person differently and can depend on weight, gender, age, metabolism, and even stress levels. Young people in particularly process alcohol a lot more slowly and are often susceptible to driving over the limit the following day.
The morning after is a dangerous period for motorists. Over half the population are unaware when they are fit to drive again after a night drinking alcohol. Police figures from 2011 show that more people failed breath tests between the hours of 6am and 11am than during the hour before and after midnight.
According to drink-driving-limit.co.uk just five bottles of lager will leave you unable to drive for at least 11 hours, whilst a bottle of wine at 11pm will prevent you from getting behind the wheel until after the following midday.
Police in Gloucestershire have already charged 20 people this Christmas who will now face a possible ban to start the New Year, but the impact could be a lot more serious.
The government’s THINK! campaign launched The Snowball Effect at the beginning of the month and aims to highlight the risks people run should they drive under the influence.
Up to one million people could run the risk of being dismissed from their employment should they receive a drink drive conviction, with also around three-quarters of employers admitting to taking an offence into account when hiring prospective employees.
Kicking off the Snowball Effect, Transport Minister Robert Goodwill said, “Just one drink can put you over the limit and the consequences are devastating – not only will you be cuffed and put in a cell, but if you’re convicted you will lose your licence and, as this research shows, you could even lose your job.”
And for those who have already been convicted, their lives have changed dramatically. A survey by Drink Driver Education showed that 28% of people worried about applying for jobs because of their record, whilst almost half of the convicted said their social lives have dramatically changed.
A mother-of-two from the county was banned for 15 months following three glasses of wine just a few miles from her home.
The woman, who wished to remain nameless, spoke to the Gloucestershire Echo about how her ban has seriously affected her family life.
“The worst for me was the fact that my parents, who are in their late 80s, live an hour-and-a-half away. It now takes a taxi, two train journeys and a half-mile walk to get to them. I pray that they don’t get taken ill as I cannot get to them quickly now.”
It can be a very lonely and isolated experience being convicted of drink driving, so as you’re toasting the festive period and New Year, ensure you take extra precautions to ensure you stay safe on the roads this Christmas.
This is a guest article, from drink-driving-limit.co.uk