Drink driving: the morning after

Lesson Type
Last updated: 10 Jul 2020

Christmas is a time for celebrating with friends and family, and that often means having a drink or two. At this time of year, however, police forces all over the UK introduce campaigns to remind drivers of the risks of drink driving. Drink driving, of course, doesn’t just mean getting in your car after you’ve been drinking – you can still be over the limit the morning after too.

The dangers of becoming a ‘morning after’ drink driver

Many people assume they’re fine to drive the morning after the night before, but it can take longer than you might think for alcohol to break down and leave your body.

In fact, as morning-after.org.uk states, it actually takes around one hour to break down one unit of alcohol. This means responsible drivers who would never dream of getting in their car after a night of drinking could be breaking the law without even realising it. So be careful not to schedule in any driving lessons the morning after a big night out!

When will I be safe to drive?

The time your body will take to break down alcohol depends upon what you’re drinking and how much of it you drink.

Morning-after.org.uk have created a handy guide:

Wine – If you drink a 250ml glass of 15% wine, it will take 4 hours to leave your body.

Spirits – It will take around 1 and a half hours to break down a 35ml shot, and 3 hours for a 70ml shot (a double).

Beer and lager – Average strength beers and lagers are 4%. Each pint will take 2 and a half hours to leave your blood stream.

Alcopops – A 275ml bottle of alcopop will take 2 hours to leave your system.

The morning after calculator

2young2die is a road safety organisation aimed at young drivers. Their morning after calculator allows you to see how long it should take alcohol to leave your body after a night of drinking.

Input everything you’ve drank and the calculator will tell you when you’ll be safe to drive. The results might shock you.

Drink responsibly this festive period

It’s impossible to know whether you’re safe to drive the morning after just based on how you feel. Make sure you leave yourself enough time before driving the next day, and don’t drink at all if you have to drive early the next day.

Drink responsibly this Christmas period, and stay safe on the roads!

Image via Alexandre Normand.