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Morning After Alcohol: Units When Driving The Next Day

Dec 17, 2020

Figures suggest that around 20% of drink driving convictions are for those stopped by the police in the morning.

We look at the risks of driving the morning after drinking, drink driving penalties and how fleet managers can help their drivers to avoid this issue.

Why you should proceed with caution when driving the morning after drinking alcohol?

Getting behind the wheel of a vehicle the morning, or even day after you have consumed alcohol can continue to pose a number of risks.

This is because it takes the body a certain amount of time to process and remove the alcohol which has been put in your system. Exactly how long it takes for the body to process alcohol depends on a number of things and will vary from person to person but on average it is thought it takes around 1 hour to process 1 unit of alcohol.

Calculating how many units of alcohol you consume is difficult, however. For example, different drinks can have different strengths and therefore units of alcohol. It is therefore hard to guarantee exactly how long it will take for all of the alcohol you have drunk to have left your system. This short article gives an example of just how long it can take for alcohol to leave your system. It is also important to remember that alcohol impacts people in different ways. So, there is certainly no set formula for deciding if it is safe to drive the next morning if you have been drinking the previous day.

The way alcohol affects people can depend on factors such as:

  • your weight, age, sex and metabolism (the rate your body uses energy)
  • the type and amount of alcohol you’re drinking
  • what you’ve eaten recently
  • your stress levels at the time

If you drive the next day with alcohol still in your system you could be:

  • Over the legal drink drive limit – you can still fail a breathalyser test the following day as alcohol may remain in your system
  • Unfit to drive – alcohol consumption increases the likelihood of having an accident. Amongst other things, alcohol can delay responses, impair judgement, impair vision and impact concentration.

What penalties apply for those caught over the drink drive limit?

There are a number of offences linked to drink driving and penalties which apply for those who are found to be over the legal drink drive limit.

These include:

Being in charge of a vehicle while above the legal limit or unfit through drink.

For this you may get 3 months’ imprisonment, up to £2,500 fine, a possible driving ban

Driving or attempting to drive while above the legal limit or unfit through drink.

For this offence you may get 6 months’ imprisonment, an unlimited fine, a driving ban for at least 1 year (3 years if convicted twice in 10 years)

Refusing to provide a specimen of breath, blood or urine for analysis.

You may get 6 months’ imprisonment, an unlimited fine, a ban from driving for at least 1 year

Causing death by careless driving when under the influence of drink.

You may get 14 years’ imprisonment, an unlimited fine, a ban from driving for at least 2 years, and have to undergo an extended driving test before your licence is returned

Sentencing guidelines are currently being reviewed, and it is likely that life sentences will be introduced for those who cause death by dangerous driving, and for careless drivers who kill while under the influence of drink or drugs. An increase from the current maximum of 14 years. 

How can fleet managers manage risks linked to driving the morning after drinking?

All fleets should have a drink driving policy in place. This should map out the businesses stance regarding alcohol and driving. It should also provide guidance on how employees who are concerned about issues linked to alcohol can access support and the strategies the business employs when it comes to employee wellbeing.

In addition to putting a policy in place, drivers and all responsible employees must be properly trained on the policy on an ongoing basis. The policy should be updated as and when required. For example, policy updates may be needed when/if drink drive limits change or sentencing guidelines relating to being caught drink driving change.

Ahead of the festive season, use the time to re-educate drivers on your drink driving policy and particularly around issues such as driving the morning after drinking alcohol.

If any of your employees are struggling with their mental health or the misuse of drugs or alcohol, there are places they can turn to for help. One such advisory and referral service is Rehab 4 Addiction, a UK-based addiction and mental health helpline.

Think about the following:

  • The safest advice which can be given is to avoid alcohol entirely if you need to drive the morning after
  • Alcohol stays in your system for a prolonged period of time. Often longer than you would think.
  • Be aware that home drinking can provide additional risk – measures may be larger as there is no formal measuring guide you adhere to when pouring your own drink, unlike at a bar or restaurant. This can lead to increased alcohol consumption.
  • Remember that you can also be caught for drink driving on non-traditional modes of transport. With the rise in e-scooters, there have been a couple of reports of people being caught drink driving on an electric scooter. Penalties have then led to driving bans as e-scooters meet the legal definition of a ‘motor vehicle’. It is currently illegal to ride an e-scooter anywhere but private land unless the e-scooter is part of one of the government trials schemes.
  • It is also an offence to ride a bicycle whilst unfit due to alcohol.

At Anthony Jones we work in association with DAC Beachcroft and are able to help you to understand how to draft and implement a Driving Policy for your business. We work with you to help improve your risk profile and put risk management measures in place because we believe that an insurance broker should do more for your business than arrange your insurance. Talk to us today to see how we can help your business.

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You can call us during normal office hours, Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm. Outside of office hours you can either email us or leave an answerphone message and we promise to get back to you the next working day.

General enquiries:
020 8290 4560

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