Christmas is a chaotic time for everyone involved and each year, it seems to start being thrust upon us earlier and earlier. Decorations go up after Halloween in some households and advertising from retailers is ramped up ten-fold. Retailers are not the only ones who increase their presence at this time of year as police forces across the country are infinitely more vigilant due to the unparalleled increase of motoring offences- particularly those of drink driving.
There seems to be a reason to go out drinking almost every other day in the run up to Christmas- work parties, catching up with friends you’ve not seen, reuniting with family, having more regular nightcaps because you’ve finished work until the New Year and this is exactly why police constabularies across the country will launch fresh, drink driving campaigns to stop those who have indulged too much before driving. I suspect that this year will also show a significant increase in the amount of drug drivers following new legislation introduced earlier this year.
Regardless of your festive schedule this year, make sure you remain safe at all times and Olliers Motor Law want to help you, your friends and family achieve this. It is unrealistic to think that every single motorist will simply abstain entirely from alcohol when driving this year and with this in mind, here are our top tips for when you’re drinking alcohol this Christmas.
Avoid Needing a Drink Driving Solicitor with our Top Tips This Christmas
1. Have a designated driver!
If you are part of a group then for each occasion the best thing you can do is nominate a driver who simply does not drink any alcohol at all. Other than not drinking at all, this is the easiest way to avoid drink driving. This person should be responsible for helping each of you get home safely without the temptation to drive yourself once your judgement is impaired through alcohol. Sure it sucks being the driver but the season is long and there are bound to be plenty of opportunities for the designated driver to rotate between the group. This rule also applies for when you are doing the family-visit runs. It seems almost law that you are offered a drink when you pop in to see Nana, Aunt, Uncle, Cousin or in-law and even one can cause impairment when driving, particularly in the colder weather conditions. You need to be even more aware that you may be accepting a drink in several different stops during the visit.
2. Don’t Assume You’re Under the Drink Driving Limit
One of the most frequent things I hear as motor law specialists is that people charged with drink driving have had one or two pints or maybe a glass of wine and assumed that they are OK to drive their vehicle. So many people are confident that they know their own limits and each individual is different when it comes to alcohol tolerance and how intoxicated you feel will be determined by your age, height, weight and sex to name but a few factors. Some people may be more easily affected by it than others and your tolerance does not reflect your actual alcohol level of intoxication. If you and a friend both drink 5 pints of lager with only one of you ending up stumbling over drunk, this simply does not mean that the other guy is safe to drive. The same level of alcohol is in your system so even if you feel good to drive the safest thing to do is just not risk it. A police officer will not care if you feel good to drive if the breathalyser shows you are in fact over the limit and neither will anyone who ends up involved in an accident as a result of your drink driving.
3. Plan Ahead Before Drink Driving
This is one of the most important things any motorists can do. It’s easy for things to get out of hand unexpectedly during such a festive season. “One drink after work” quickly becomes “three, four, five…..wait, how many?” If you are ever making last minute decisions on how to spend your day/evening then think ahead and consider where you might end up. Do you have a designated driver who can help you get home? Are you staying within walking distance to where you live? Is public transport available? Do you have enough money for a taxi ? Is your car left in a safe/secure location? Have you paid for enough parking to collect your car the next day? If you plan ahead you are much less likely to find yourself stuck and be tempted to hop into your car.
We often speak to motorists who have gone out after work to enjoy a mulled wine at one of the many German markets. Everyone starts with the best intentions of only having one drink and then going home but once alcohol is in play, poor choices are often made. The thought process is often: I’ve only had one drink, may as well have another and I’ll be OK. Two becomes three- but three is OK because you can still get the train home. Three becomes four. You have missed the last train but there’s always a taxi. Suddenly you realise you have consumed drinks you have already forgotten about, your funds are exhausted and it’s time to go home but you cannot be bothered to walk to a cash machine (one of the poor choices we mentioned!) so you end up driving. Whenever you decide to go for a drink after work, if you end up staying longer than intended make sure that your funds that are easily accessible so you can get home. In this day and age of debit cards and contactless payments there really is no excuse to not have money to get home instead of driving. Taxis all accept card payments so just make sure that you have sufficient funds available after all the Christmas shopping and festive drinking/eating to get yourself home safely. Put some aside in a different part of your wallet/purse or in a different pocket so you know that if you need to chip into that money it’s time to go home! If you pay for things on a card…..make sure you have cash for a taxi or that you’re not overspending.
Motorists who are stopped for drink driving very rarely realise that they are over the limit and despite the huge number of offences over Christmas, it is a very small number of offenders who have broke the law intentionally. There are also those that know they are over, but decide to risk the journey home because it’s so nearby or they assume they wont get stopped.
Even if police don’t pull you over, driving after consuming alcohol makes you a significant danger on the roads to yourself and to others.
Nobody ever expects to be in a crash
5. Eat well and Stay Hydrated
Drinking on an empty stomach is a sure-fire way to end up drunk a lot sooner than usual and the sooner you end up drunk, the sooner your judgement is impaired. Make sure you eat well before starting to drink. Food in your stomach will slow the rate at which your body absorbs the alcohol so it will take longer to really affect you. Hopefullly this will lengthen the time you are of sound mind and less likely to make poor choices. A full stomach often makes people drink less overall as well so it is always beneficial to eat before consuming alcohol.
In addition to food, make sure you stay hydrated. Alternating your drinks between alcoholic and water will not only mean you drink less overall and end up less intoxicated, but it will also massively help any hangover you may have faced the following day. And let’s be honest, no one enjoys a hangover!
Christmas is one of the most excited holidays of the year and we want you to have the best time possible this year. Keep our tips in mind and avoid spending some of this Christmas locked in a cell.
This post was written by Neil Sargeant, our Head of Motor Law and specialist in this field since 2008.