When it is safe to drive after drinking on New Year’s Eve

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With drink-driving offences higher on New Year’s Day than any other in the calendar year, it pays to know how long to leave it before driving after a heavy night on New Year’s Eve. In fact, more than one in eight motorists have either been caught or know someone caught over the limit on January 1.

How quickly the body processes alcohol is different for everyone and depends on height, weight, gender, the amount consumed and food eaten.

But there are general guidelines set out by the Government that can be followed as a rule.

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the limit is 80 milligrammes per 100 millilitres of blood, 35 micrograms per 100 millilitres of breath and 107 milligrammes per 100 millilitres of urine.

Scotland differs slightly, where the limit is 50 milligrammes per 100 millilitres of blood, 22 micrograms per 100 millilitres of breath and 67 milligrammes per 100 millilitres of urine.

It can be easier to follow when alcohol is broken down into units.

Generally, a small glass of red or white wine will contain 1.5 units, a pint of lager is two units and a double shot of spirits is also two units.

Consuming any more than this will put someone over the limit that night.

As alcohol is on average removed from the body at a rate of one unit per hour, a night’s drinking could take 10 or more hours to get over before it is safe to drive.

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According to support organisation drinkaware, there’s no good way to speed up the process.

They state: “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 to get rid of the alcohol.

“You might feel slightly different, but you won’t have eliminated the alcohol in any way.”

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While it shouldn’t be taken as a rule, the morning after calculator can act as a general guide to how long to delay getting behind the wheel.

Failing to wait long enough can result in severe penalties.

Driving or attempting to drive while above the legal limit could see road users landed with an unlimited fine, a one-year driving ban or even a six-month prison sentence.

Even refusing to provide a sample of breath, blood or urine for analysis by police officers could result in a jail sentence and driving ban.

Experts at drinkaware said: “Even small amounts of alcohol can affect your ability to drive, and there is no fool-proof way to drink and stay within the limit.

“The advice from the police is clear: avoid alcohol altogether if you plan to drive.

“Because there is no way to speed up how long your body takes to process any alcohol in your system, there’s no fail-safe way to guarantee all the alcohol you have drunk will be gone by the time you wake up the next day.”

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