Drivers warned as many could drink drive this Christmas

Drink driving: UK police send warning after increase in arrests

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A staggering 4.5 million UK drivers – the equivalent of one in 25 people – have broken the law by driving while under the influence after attending a Christmas party, a new study has found. Around 1.6 million UK motorists (four percent) have knowingly driven home over the limits after a Christmas party on more than one occasion.

The findings also highlighted that men are much more likely to drink drive at Christmas than women. Almost one in five men have done so, compared to just over one in 20 women. 

One in seven (13 percent) admitted that whilst they haven’t driven home from a festive do over the legal limit, they have got into the car with someone who was.   

Drivers in London are the most likely to have driven home from a festive event while drunk, as almost one in five living in the capital (18 percent) have done this at least once. 

A similar number of Belfast residents have also driven home over the legal limit (17 percent). The Northern Ireland capital recorded the second-highest number in the UK. 

The research, conducted by the experts at iCompario, surveyed 1,000 UK adults who drive about whether they had ever knowingly driven home over the legal drink drive limit following a Christmas party or event, and their reasons for this. 

Kerry Fawcett, Digital Director at iCompario said: “These findings are a real eye-opener to how big an issue drink driving remains in the UK, with the findings seeming to suggest that the festive period is particularly problematic, with millions of us catching up with colleagues and friends for a drink before the big day. 

“Whilst many of us will be looking after our spending around this particular Christmas time, the extra expense on a taxi or organising a lift from a close one is absolutely the right thing to do. 

“Many drink drivers convince themselves that they will be ok to drink and drive just once – but even one time is enough to jeopardise the lives of yourself and others and risk a custodial sentence.” 

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When quizzed about their reasons for having driven over the legal limit in the past, one in five drink drivers (19 percent) said “they didn’t think they’d get caught”. 

However, the most common excuse given was that they were unable to get home any other way, with around 43 percent saying this. 

Almost one in three drunk drivers said they were “too embarrassed to ask a friend” for assistance getting home.

Less than 10 percent put it down to monetary reasons such as being unable to afford a taxi or wanting to save cash (seven percent). 

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According to DfT statistics, having been declining in the early 2000s and 2010s, drink driving incidents have been on the up since 2014. 

This is still a large decrease from the 5,630 serious collisions recorded in 1979 – the worst year on record for drink driving accidents.  

That said, over the last five Christmas periods, almost 5,000 drink driving-related collisions have been recorded in November and December alone.

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the drink driving alcohol limit for drivers is 80 milligrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood (the “blood limit”).

The “breath limit” is 35 micrograms per 100 millilitres of breath, while it is just 22 micrograms in Scotland.

If a person is caught driving while above the legal limit, they will be banned from driving for a least a year and could also face six months in prison, and an unlimited fine.

Anyone found to have caused death by careless driving while under the influence of alcohol can be jailed for 14 years.

In addition, they could face an unlimited fine, a minimum two-year driving ban and an extended driving test before being allowed to drive again.

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