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  • Writer's pictureLauren Booker

How to avoid a drink-drive conviction

Here's the third and final article on drinking and driving

As we approach the festive season the ubiquitous anti drink-drive campaigns will emerge, as they do every year, exhorting drinkers to leave the car at home and drivers to stick to soft drinks. Sound advice, but sometimes not that simple to follow. Especially if you don’t intend to have a drink when you leave the house, or you’re drinking at home with friends and don’t expect to leave the house afterwards and then one thing leads to another…

I’ve often heard drivers proclaim that they’re ‘safe’ to drive as they’ve only had one or two drinks. The trouble is, once you’ve had a drink, you’re not in a position to know how ‘safe’ you are, as alcohol impairs your thought processes and judgment. What’s more, even if you feel absolutely fine, it doesn’t mean that you’re within the legal limit. (Do you know what the legal limit is?).

Even so, I’d hope that most of us wouldn’t dream of heading back to the car after a night out and, indeed, would plan the night in advance and make arrangements for alternative transport home. But what about the morning after? According to Autocar[1] 20% of drink drive convictions are for drivers still under the influence from the previous day’s revelries. Many weren’t even aware that they still had alcohol in their system. So, it’d be useful to know how long it takes before you’re truly ‘safe’ to drive - i.e. no alcohol in your system, rather than aiming for just under the limit - wouldn’t it?

So here it is. Anyone can work it out. You just need to know how many units you’ve consumed and then calculate one hour for each unit, plus half an hour for the booze to get into your system in the first place.

Here’s an example:

You start drinking a 8pm and over the next four hours drink a bottle of wine (10 units) and a liqueur coffee (1 unit). So that’s a total of 11 units. If you add eleven hours on to 8pm, plus an extra half an hour, you’ll be alcohol free at about 7.30am the following day.

By the way, nothing will speed up how quickly your liver can process the booze. Not eating dry toast(really? I mean, where did that come from? Apparently, the idea is that it soaks up the alcohol; and then what? Wrings it out? Neutralises it with its breadiness?) and not snorting cocaine (oh, please – any excuse!)

Here’s a more extreme example:

You start drinking at noon on Saturday and over the next 12 hours you consume 20 pints of 5.2% lager (59 units). If you add 59 hours on to 12noon on Saturday (plus that extra half hour) you’ll be alcohol-free at 11pm on Monday.

Ah, I hear you say, but how on earth do I work out how many units I’ve had in the first place?

Good question: units can be confusing. We hear the term bandied about a lot but what do we actually know about the elusive unit? Well, there are a few ways to work out how many units in your drink but by far the easiest is to just download one of the free drink tracker apps onto your phone. The new Dry January and Beyond app, for example. You just enter what you’ve had to drink and voila – it works out the units for you. Once you know how many units you’ve had, you can start adding up the hours.

But can you beat the breathalyzer? If I had a copper coin for every time I’ve heard the myth that, er, a copper coin in your mouth will spoil the test, I’d be a millionaire. So, once and for all, let’s clear that one up: no, nope, nada, niet, nee, nein, no way José. It doesn’t work, never has, never will. Why not? Well let’s start with the fact that ‘copper’ coins aren’t actually even made of copper. Possibly effective as a choking hazard, though. Still not convinced? The breathalyzer tests the gaseous exchange of carbon dioxide from the blood into the lungs, not whatever’s going on in the mouth. Other persistent and completely false myths about breathalyzer-beating antics include:

— - Chewing gum, especially Airwaves (that doesn’t even sound likely, does it?)

— - Doing vigorous exercise (I’d love to see someone execute 10 burpees and a minute of ‘high knees’ before taking the test. That would deserve a You Tube channel all of its own)

— - Eating a curry. (Nice idea but, no).

There is only one way to beat the breathalyzer. Are you ready? Here it is… lean in a little closer…

…don’t drink and drive. Simples!

[1] Accessed 21 October 2019.

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