Dec 22 2008 Mike Waters
Don't risk ruining the New Year
FOR many a driver the festive season poses an additional threat - parties.
With the seasonal fun comes the opportunity to drink and drive, possibly unwittingly with many motorists not knowing even one drink can take you over the limit.
The Government has launched its latest drink-driving campaign, warning that anyone caught faces being locked in jail and treated like any other criminal.
Last year 460 people were killed by drink drivers and so the government can't afford to offer any level of leniency. The campaign has a significant budget of £1.6 million and is running on television, radio, the Internet and in pubs - particularly aimed at young men, the group that is most likely to offend.
There's even corporate backing as the initiative is being supported by Coca-Cola. The company is offering designated drivers a buy-one drink, get two free deal in more than 2,500 pubs across the country.
But what many drivers forget is that it's not just going home from a bash when you could be driving over the limit. If you've consumed enough you could still be driving illegally the next day.
There's no way of knowing exactly how long it takes to sober up completely after drinking, but it's probably longer than you think. For example, if you finish your fourth pint of normal strength beer at 11pm, you probably won't be legally able to drive until 10am the next day -and it could take much longer.
The urban myths of drinking coffee, eating, sleeping and showering don't make you sober up any faster. It just takes time.
There's also the problem that many drivers don't understand how much partying will put them over the limit. A survey by the RAC revealed that 80 per cent of drivers have no idea what constitutes one unit of alcohol so have no way of judging whether they are legal or not.
Therefore the safest option is not to drink and drive at all, especially when you consider that if caught you'll get a minimum 12 months driving ban, criminal record and a large fine.
A record number of motorists are expected to be breathalysed this Christmas after the police were issued with new testing equipment. Digital devices will help the police to carry out more roadside stop and check operations than ever before, at all times of day and night and on all types of road.
Enjoy Christmas - the food, the drinks, the visiting friends and relatives but if you are going to consume alcohol make alternative arrangements to get home and the next day, question whether you are legal to drive.
Having alcohol in your system impairs reaction times, judgment and co-ordination so it really isn't worth the potential consequences.
Mike Waters is director - market insight at Arval, Europe's leading fleet and fuel management company.