Stay Safe This New Year With Our Quick Driving Law Refresher

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The other night, while driving home at a latish hour, I was stopped by the police. They had set up a spot-check on the main road near where I live, and were looking for drunk drivers. ‘Good evening madam, have you been drinking?’ a stern-looking cop greeted me when I stopped as signalled. ‘Yes,” I replied truthfully, ‘A bottle of water at the cinema.’

A conspicuous sniff in through the car window confirmed that my answer was honest, and I was sent on my way with a friendly ‘Goodnight, drive safely madam.’ Others were less fortunate, hoist by their own incautious petard, and were being summarily breathalysed at the roadside and – in some regrettable cases – taken into custody.

Don’t take the risk

Drinking and driving is a pretty daft thing to do. Not just because it risks a brush with the law, a potential court appearance, and then a year of catching the bus, followed by a wince-making rise in insurance premiums. That’s for the lucky ones. The less fortunate end up in hospital, or the morgue, or put someone else there. It just isn’t worth risking it, especially at this time of year. Police activity against drinking drivers is always significantly increased over the festive season.

Are you under the limit?

Currently the drink-drive law in the UK specifies a limit of 80 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood. In Scotland it is newly lowered to 50 mg, in line with most of western Europe. Northern Ireland is considering doing the same. In Germany, if you’re involved in an accident, the breath-test limit is set at 30 mg. In some counties, including everyone in Sweden and learner drivers in Ireland, the limit is 20 mg. It is zero for young Germans under 21 and anyone driving there with less than two years’ experience.

The UK’s drink-drive casualties make sobering reading. The number of road deaths where alcohol was a contributory factor, total some 230 a year, with a further 1,200 seriously injured and 8,510 hurt less seriously.

Take care this festive season

The festive season, Christmas and New Year, is a great time for celebrations, and alcohol is very often involved. Just not if you’re driving.

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About

Sue Baker is a seasoned motoring journalist with a love of all things automotive.