The first thing to be aware when discussing drink driving is that everyone is different. While there are strict rules regarding the maximum amount that men and women can drink before driving, how someone’s reaction times are affected by any amount of alcohol can also vary. Therefore, one of the simplest bits of advice someone can offer is – simply don’t do it.

The legal limit

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland the level of alcohol allowed is limited to up to 35 micrograms per 100 millilitres of breath (80mg per 100 blood, 107mg per 100ml urine). In Scotland the rules are tighter with 22 per 100 breath, 50 per 100 blood and 67 per 100 urine.


A unit of alcohol is equal to-

• 218 ml 4.5% cider
• 76 ml 13% wine
• 25ml 40% whisky
• 250ml 4% beer
• 250ml 4% alcopop

Roughly speaking it takes around an hour for the alcohol to be processed through the bloodstream but this will vary from person to person. For example, younger people and women tend to process alcohol more slowly or in some cases some people process it quickly purely through having a faster metabolism.

It also helps if you eat something while you are drinking – aside from helping to absorb the alcohol it also means you potentially don’t drink as much and can enjoy it in the process.

What you need to remember

It is not simply a case of passing a test – if a police officer thinks you might be over the limit they may still prevent you from driving if they think it is not safe. If you have committed an offence such as a banned turn or you are in an accident then the police may decide to do a breath test.


Punishments for drink driving can include a 12 month ban, a £5000 fine and a number of points on your license (this can be between 3 to 11 depending on the severity of the offence). If you are caught drink driving more than once in 10 years you could be banned for at least three years.

How to avoid it

There are a few basic steps you can take to ensure you do not drink and drive. If you’re in a group one person should be the designated driver or alternatively you should arrange public transport or book a taxi (this also means you can ensure everyone gets home safely!).

It is also important to remember that just because you are in a pub doesn’t mean you need to drink – there are plenty of soft drinks, mocktails, and coffees and so forth you can have instead of alcohol. And nobody should pressure you to drink if you don’t want to.

Also remember that alcohol can stay in your system for hours after you have drunk so be wary of driving the morning after as well. If in doubt don’t drive!

Help is available

We believe in being large enough to specialise but also small enough to care. If you were recently involved in a drink driving case or want to bring a case against a drunk driver please contact us today.