Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Motorists back total drink ban before driving: claim

A vast majority of UK motorists believe there should be a total ban on drinking before driving, a new survey has revealed.

The research, which was conducted earlier this month, found that 40% of those surveyed believed there should be a total ban after almost half admitted to driving under the influence.

It also revealed that around 1.3 million motorists admitted to frequently driving under the influence and that many did not know what constituted to being over the limit.

It says that confusion over how much alcohol is safe to drink before driving arises from the fact that alcohol intake is measured in units, while the drink drive limit is measured by alcohol content within the blood.

The UK legal limit is 80 milligrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood. As a rough guide this means men should consume no more than four units of alcohol, and women no more than three units, before driving.

Blood alcohol level can also be affected by such factors as an individual's size, weight and metabolism - meaning that there is no uniform measure.

The study also revealed that 34% of motorists don't know how many units of alcohol are in an average strength pint of beer or how that may affect their blood alcohol level, while 49% are ignorant of the potency and effects of a large glass of wine.

Tony Chilcott, head of car insurance company Direct Line, which commissioned the survey, said the study made worrying reading.

"If an average sized female motorist drinks two large glasses of wine during an evening out, then that is the equivalent of two thirds of a bottle of wine," he explained.

"Whilst she may then feel 'fine' and wrongly assume that she has only had two units of alcohol, should she then drive home, she is extremely likely to be over the drink drive limit - breaking the law and putting her life and others at risk. It is this uncertainty that many motorists want to end by banning all drinking before driving."

Despite going out with good intentions and not planning to drink, many motorists find themselves led astray during evenings out, with 40% admitting to driving after drinking some alcohol.

Of these, 22% bowed to beer pressure and joined in with their mates on a night out on the tiles. 22% have also travelled as a passenger in a car when they believed the motorist was over the drink-drive limit.

Mr Chilcott added: "With drinks promotions adding to the 'beer pressure' that encourages us to drink more in the Christmas period, the only sensible thing to do is leave the car where it is and use alternative means to get home."

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