Morning-after drink driving rises

FOUR in ten drivers are getting behind the wheel the morning after a night of excessive drinking, a survey showed today. Road safety charity Brake said the proportion had increased to 38 per cent from 28 per cent in a similar poll seven years ago.

The latest poll, conducted with insurer Direct Line, also showed 45 per cent of motorists reckoned they would need to reckoned they would need to consume two or more units of alcohol for their driving to be affected. However, one in seven believed it would take three or more units for the alcohol to have an effect.

Overall, more than one third of the 800 drivers and motorcyclists surveyed admitted driving after drinking alcohol at some stage during the last year – down from 51 per cent in 2003.

Brake campaigns director, Julie Townsend, said: “Drink-driving remains a menace on our roads, devastating people’s lives every day. A shocking proportion of drivers seem unaware of the dangers of driving the morning after a heavy night, or even small quantities of alcohol. “We’re appealing to everyone to stay safe over the festive season by planning ahead. Make sure you can get home safely, and stay off the booze if you’re driving home or early the next day.”

Andy Goldby, director of motor underwriting at Direct Line, said: “Many drivers seem to be oblivious of the risks of driving in the morning after drinking the night before. “The effect of alcohol on driving ability lasts much longer than a couple of hours after drinking. With this week being the busiest for festive parties, we are urging people not to drink and drive.”

Police said one in eight drivers caught during the summer drink/drug campaign in Scotland were “morning after” offenders – 26 of 216. Chief Superintendent Brian Anderson, spokesman for the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland on drink driving issues, said: “Drivers should always consider the time taken for alcohol to leave their system and leave a suitable time before driving. Those who choose to drink or take drugs and drive pose a risk to themselves and others. When caught, they will lose their licence and get an automatic 12-month ban. There is also the possibility of a criminal record, imprisonment and a fine of up to £5,000.”

Philip Gomm, of the Royal Automobile Club Foundation, said: “Those who drive the morning after heavy drinking put themselves and others at significant risk not just because of the alcohol still in their bloodstream but also the effects of tiredness.

“Many motorists sensibly use a designated driver when they go out to the pub, but a worrying amount still seem unaware it is wise to take similar precautions the following day.”

Automobile Association president Edmund King said: “Many drivers unwittingly drink-drive the morning after a big night out.

Drivers need to be aware of the dangers of still being over the limit in the morning, and if in doubt, don’t take the car out.”

Neil Greig, of the Institute of Advanced Motorists, said: “Just because you waited until the next morning to drive after a drinking session is no excuse if you are caught over the limit.”