‘Morning after’ drink driving is on the increase with more motorists putting themselves and other road users at risk, according to new research from LV= car insurance.
The research suggests that since 2012 one in 30 (3% or 1.2 million) motorists have driven while still over the legal alcohol limit the ‘morning after’ and in many cases these drivers did not realise.
According to official police data, obtained by a Freedom of Information request from LV= car insurance, the number of motorists caught drink-driving has fallen but more people are driving while over the legal alcohol limit in the morning. Police arrested 4% more drink drivers between the hours of 6am and 8am in 2012 than in 2011.
The LV= research shows that men are more likely than women to be over the limit when they drive the morning after a night drinking (78% and 22% respectively). This is because men will consume a greater number of alcohol units on a night out and are more likely to use their car the morning after. LV= says that on average, morning after drivers consume 19 units of alcohol (e.g. seven pints of strong lager or six 250ml glasses of wine) and then drive their car just 10 hours after having their first drink – meaning that they are five hours away from being sober enough to drive legally.
LV= says this upward trend is being exacerbated by a lack of awareness among drivers about how long it takes alcohol to leave their system. When asked how long it would take someone who has had two strong pints of lager (5%+ ABV) or six units of alcohol, to process the alcohol and be under the drink drive limit, close to a half (46%) underestimated the time or had no idea how long it would take.
The law states that a driver can have a maximum of 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood, 35mg per 100ml of breath or 107mg per 100ml of urine. LV= says this equates to approximately four units for an average man and two to three units for an average woman. LV= also says that "according to the official guidelines" it takes about an hour for the body to break down one unit of alcohol, but that this can vary according to on a number of factors including the person’s age, weight, gender and metabolism.
In the LV= study, of the drivers who knew they were over the drink drive limit in the morning, 19% said they believed they were okay to drive at the time, 37% said that driving was unavoidable and 26% said it was just a short distance. 7% thought it was acceptable as they weren’t driving on a motorway and one in eight (13%) said they were only a little over the limit so it didn’t matter.
John O’Roarke, managing director of LV= car insurance, said: “It’s easy to assume that after a good night’s sleep you will be sober enough to drive the next day but depending on how many units you’ve had, you may not be fit to drive.”