Could the end of lockdown signal an increase in drink driving convictions?

Just last month, the UK emerged from its lockdown restrictions, with a date known by everyone as ‘Freedom Day’. For many of us, the 19th of July signalled a time for us to see friends and family, relax and enjoy the summer, with pubs, restaurants and bars all open to the public.

Despite the welcome relief from strict lockdown rules, there are fears that the easing could lead to an increase in drink driving convictions.

The laws surrounding drink driving

Despite tough laws surrounding drink driving and various campaigns aimed at those considered most likely to drink-drive, convictions and accidents do sadly happen. Across England, Wales, and Northern Ireland the legal limit for a breathalyser test is 35 micrograms of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath, with this reduced to 22 micrograms in Scotland. If you are stopped by the police and a breathalyser test shows that you are over the limit, you may receive a driving ban, a £2,500 fine or even a three-month prison service, with higher penalties in Scotland.

You may be surprised to learn that almost 20% of drink driving convictions take place in the morning, with breathalyser firm <a href=”https://fleetworld.co.uk/drink-drive-warnings-amid-coronavirus-lockdown/”>AlcoSense</a> warning that many people are unaware that they may be over the drink driving limit the following day. In fact, their data explains that one-third of breathalyser tests following a road traffic incident take place between 7.00 am and 1.00 pm.

A potential increase in drink driving convictions

During the various Covid-19 lockdowns many of us enjoyed alcoholic drinks at home with family, however with our favourite pubs and bars reopening, naturally, we are excited to meet friends and family and return to our usual social activities. However, there are concerns that this may signal an increase in convictions, with the following factors considered key risks:

1) A return to commuting – The ability to work from home meant that fewer people were having to commute the following day. As restrictions ease, more people are returning to their usual workplaces and with pubs, bars and other venues all open again, this could fuel a rise in drink driving convictions the following day.

2) A rise in alcohol content – A report from the Department of Health shows that the average alcohol content has risen. During the pandemic drinks such as gin and craft beer have grown in popularity, and with alcohol content which is often above the usual levels, it is feared that individuals may be unaware of how much they have consumed.

3) Lack of awareness – The government has invested in campaigns such as Think!’s social media Pint Block film which urges friends not to let a mate drink and drive, however, its reach is limited. Many of these campaigns are targeting young males, however, there is a much larger audience that needs to be given more information about the risks of drink driving and the limits.

4) A reduction in policing budget – In 2017 the <a href=”https://www.ias.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/rp28122017.pdf”>Institute of Alcohol Studies</a>Institute of Alcohol Studies described drink-driving law enforcement as running on empty. With fewer police officers available, there are fewer resources available to adequately educate individuals about the risks of drink driving.

5) A rise in alcohol addictions – During the pandemic many individuals have suffered from issues relating to their mental health, which has led to a rise in the number of people with alcohol addictions. Sadly, as lockdown ends there are more people needing support that may not be readily available. Without support to address addiction issues, there are likely to be more individuals getting behind the wheel whilst over the limit.

6) Reduced levels of traffic – Although restrictions have eased within the UK, the levels of traffic in many places have not returned to their usual levels. This may lead to drivers experiencing a false sense of security caused by quiet roads, with complacent drivers that are over the limit more likely to take a risk and drive home.

When is it safe to drive after consuming alcohol?

It is not possible to say exactly how much alcohol an individual can drink to stay below the limit, as factors such as your weight, sex, age, metabolism, stress levels and the type of alcohol you drink will have an impact on the way your body handles the alcohol in its system.

However, the majority of adults will process alcohol at a rate of <a href=”https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/alcohol-support/calculating-alcohol-units/”>8mg per hour</a>. This means that a pint of 5.2% lager with three units will take 3 hours to completely leave your system. This is similar to a large 250ml glass of 12% strength wine which also contains 3 units. Naturally, the levels of alcohol in various drinks differ and this adds to the confusion and risk when trying to calculate when it is safe to drive.

According to data from AlcoSense, if you consume three large glasses of wine or three pints of beer before 11 pm, it is likely that the alcohol will be out of your system before driving at 7 am the following morning. When you consider that being just below the legal drink-drive limit will leave you 13 times more likely to be involved in an accident, it is important to be aware of the limits.

Compare drink driver insurance with Total Insurance today!

The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has taken its toll on us all, without the added stress of being involved in a car accident or receiving a drink driving conviction. We understand that not all drink drivers are poor drivers, a single mistake or oversight can lead to a ban, penalty points and a DR licence conviction code.

In many cases, once the ban is lifted, the penalty points and conviction code could leave you with expensive insurance premiums to pay, however, our specialist brokers will do their best to find you the most competitively priced premium. We offer a completely impartial service and understand that mistakes do happen, so if you are looking to find competitive drink driver insurance, please contact our experienced and knowledgeable team today.