A mate doesn’t let a mate drink or drug drive

As part of the Surrey Police safer neighbourhood policy they have sent this information via a neighbourhood newsletter which highlights the launch of their summer drink and drug drive campaign.

Calling on all mates to step up and intervene, because a mate doesn’t let a mate drink or drug drive. The launch of the Surrey Police summer drink and drug drive campaign is calling on friends to do what they do best – look out for each other. Young men are heavily over-represented in drink drive related accidents, with 280 young men aged 16-24 killed or seriously injured due to drink driving in a single year. And summer is a time when social drinking is at its peak. 

Last summer, officers in Surrey conduced 898 breath tests and administered 83 drug tests over the campaign resulting in 130 arrests (60 of which were for drug driving). Their aim is to ensure motorists know the score when it comes to driving under the influence – and the consequences if they do. Officers are also advising drinkers to allow extra time if they plan to drive the next morning, as they could still be over the limit.

Chief Inspector Michael Hodder of the Surrey and Sussex Roads Policing Unit, said: ‘It doesn’t matter if it’s “only a short drive home” or you’ve “only had a couple” – we’ve heard every excuse in the book, but ultimately there is no excuse to drive whilst under the influence of drink or drugs. These substances can seriously impair your ability to drive, placing yourself and other road users at significant risk. Please don’t compromise the safety of you or anyone else on the roads… and let’s not meet by accident.’

Officers respond to reports of drink and drug-drivers as part of routine policing all year round, however there will be targeted patrols and static stop checks dedicated to tackling offenders throughout the summer campaign. Anyone caught will be dealt with robustly.

The consequences of driving under the influence of drink or drugs, could include the following:

The consequences of driving under the influence of drink or drugs, could include the following:
Your death or serious life-changing injuries
The death or serious life-changing injuries of your passengers
The death or serious life-changing injuries of other road users or pedestrians
A minimum 12 month ban
An unlimited fine
A possible prison sentence
A criminal record, which could affect your current and future employment
An increase to your car insurance
An endorsement on your driving licence for 11 years
Trouble travelling to countries such as the USA.

If you suspect someone you know may drive regularly while under the influence of drink or drugs then please text officers on 65999 with the details of people you suspect of drink or drug driving, or call 999.  You can also contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or report online www.crimestoppers-uk.org

More information from drinkaware.co.uk

How alcohol affects driving

Many of the functions that we depend on to drive safely are affected when we drink alcohol: 

  • The brain takes longer to receive messages from the eye
  • Processing information becomes more difficult
  • Instructions to the body’s muscles are delayed resulting in slower reaction times.

You can also experience blurred and double vision, which affects your ability to see things clearly while you are driving. And you’re more likely to take potentially dangerous risks because you can act on urges you normally repress.

What’s the drink drive limit in England and Wales?

In England and Wales, the alcohol limit for drivers is 80 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood, 35 microgrammes (μg )per 100 ml of breath or 107 mg per 100 ml of urine. In most other European countries, the limit is less, usually 50 mg per 100 ml of blood.

How much can I drink and stay under the limit?

There is no fool-proof way of drinking and staying under the drink drive limit. The amount of alcohol you would need to drink to be considered over the driving limit varies from person to person. It depends on: 

  • 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

As even small amounts of alcohol can affect your ability to drive, the only safe advice is to avoid any alcohol if you are driving.  

How would I be tested for drink driving?

If the police want to investigate whether you are over the drink drive limit, they will carry out a screening breath test at the roadside. To do this, they will use a breathalyser. If you fail this test, or if they have other grounds to believe that your driving was impaired through drink, you’ll be taken to a police station and given a final breath test. At the station you will need to provide two more breath specimens into a complex breathalyser.

The lower of the two readings is used to decide whether you are above the drink driving limit.

If the evidential breath sample is up to 40% over the limit you have the right to replace your breath specimen with blood or urine – the police officer will decide which test you will have. If your evidential samples show that you are over the limit, you will be charged.

The police can carry out a breathalyser test if you have committed a moving traffic offence (such as banned turns or going through a red light) been involved in an accident, or have given the police grounds to believe you are over the limit. The police are allowed to stop any vehicle at their discretion, and will often set up drink driving check points over periods such as Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

What’s the punishment if I get caught drink driving?

Drunk drivers face a number of penalties depending on the seriousness of their offence. Anyone caught over the legal alcohol limit when driving will be banned from driving for at least 12 months, and fined up to £5,000. You can also be given between three to 11 penalty driving points. And you could be sent to prison for up to six months. Imprisonment, the period of disqualification, size of fine and penalty points depend on the seriousness of the offence.

If you’re caught drink driving more than once in a 10 year period, you’ll be banned for at least three years.

How to ensure you don’t drink and drive:

  • Arrange within your group of friends who’s going to be the designated driver. The designated driver will abstain from alcohol on a night out so they can drive the rest of their group of friends home safely.
  • If you live somewhere with good public transport links – take advantage of them. If you’re planning on staying out beyond the last train, tube or bus, make sure you’ve got a couple of taxi numbers and use them. 
  • If you have no option but to drive, stick to zero alcohol beers, mocktails or standard soft drinks. 
  • Not every night out has to involve a bar or pub so try some alcohol free nights.  

Sleeping it off?

Whether it’s okay to drive the next morning depends on how much you’ve drunk – and if you’ve left enough time for your system to get rid of the alcohol. 

“The amount of alcohol in your bloodstream depends on three things,” says Dr Paul Wallace, Drinkaware’s Chief Medical Adviser. “The amount you take in, over what period of time and the speed at which your body gets rid of it.” 

In general, alcohol is removed from the blood at the rate of about one unit an hour. But this varies from person to person. It can depend on your size and gender, as men tend to process alcohol quicker than women; how much food you’ve eaten; the state of your liver, and your metabolism (how quickly or slowly your body turns food into energy). The best advice, if you don’t want to put yourself and others in danger and break the law, is to avoid alcohol altogether the night before you have to drive.

You can’t speed up the process

There’s a mixture of mechanisms at work when your body processes alcohol, mainly enzymes in your liver doing their job of breaking down alcohol. This process can take longer if your liver is damaged or not working normally.

There’s nothing you can do to speed up the rate alcohol leaves your system.“Having a cup of coffee or a cold shower won’t do anything at all to get rid of the alcohol,” says Dr Wallace. “They may make you feel slightly different, but they haven’t eliminated the alcohol in any way.”

Know your units

If you’re thinking about driving the morning after you’ve been drinking, it’s best to consider how much you had, and how late into the night it was before you finished your last drink.

Remember, the strength of different drinks can vary greatly. Some ales for example are 3.5%, but stronger continental lagers can be 5% ABV, or even 6%. White wines vary from around 8% to 15%. 

There’s no fail-safe way to guarantee all the alcohol you’ve drunk has left your system, so it’s important not to take risks. As Dr Wallace points out, when you’re under the influence of alcohol at any level, the skills you need when you’re driving, such as hand eye coordination, are impaired to some extent. You’re more likely to have an accident.

Tips if you know you are going to be driving the next day

  • Opt for lower strength drinks: 4% ABV or lower beer, switching pints for half pints; 12% ABV or lower wine and small measures (125ml); single spirit measures rather than doubles
  • Alternate the alcoholic drinks you do have with soft drinks or water
  • Stop drinking alcohol well before the end of the night so your body has time to process the alcohol before the following morning.

Let’s have fun, but stay safe.


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