Christmas time is supposed to be a time for giving and for being with loved ones. However, it’s also a great time for parties, drinking and generally having a good time. Unfortunately, in some instances, this can also be a notorious time for drunk driving and other offences and authorities often step up their awareness campaigns around this time. While it is nice to have a good time during the Christmas break, here are the things you need to be aware of.

Drink driving

In England and Wales the limit is 35 micrograms of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath. Someone reading this may think “What can I drink and stay under the limit?”

This is where it becomes complicated – different factors will affect it. Men usually process alcohol faster than women and younger people process alcohol slower than older people. It helps if you have had something to eat as well.

Generally speaking, if you want to stay safe don’t drink alcohol. If you are caught you can face a driving ban of at least a year, between 3 to 11 penalty points on your license or up to six months imprisonment. If you are caught drink driving more than once in a 10 year period then you could be banned from driving for up to 3 years.

Drug driving

This also needs to be made clear – for example if you smoke cannabis then this will slow your reaction times. Drugs that cause hallucinations such as LSD must be avoided when driving for obvious reasons. Whatever you take the message is the same as with alcohol – don’t take drugs and drive.

It is also important to remember you can be charged if you have taken an excessive amount of legal drugs as this too can impair your driving. Drug driving offences can result in at least a one year driving ban, unlimited fine, six months in prison and a criminal record.

Testing

It is not simply a case of passing a breathalyser test – if police have reason to believe your driving has been impaired due to the use of alcohol or other substances they can still have you arrested.

You can be tested for various reasons – for example, if you have caused an accident or committed an offence such as a banned turn they can reasonably cite this as a reason to test you.

During this time, it is important you co-operate as if you refuse (and cannot provide a reasonable reason for refusal) then you will be arrested and taken to the police station for further testing. “Failure to cooperate” can also result in up to 4 penalty points on your licence, up to 3 years disqualification from driving and a fine of up to £1000.

Stay safe

At Larcomes this year we want people to stay safe. There are a few simple things you can do to stay safe over Christmas and New Year:

  • Pre-arrange taxis/public transport
  • Have a designated driver
  • If you are driving don’t drink alcohol

Whatever you do we hope you stay safe and have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

If you do require further advice give Larcomes a call on 023 9244 8100 or email Lucy Linington on lucy.linington@larcomes.co.uk