This is how long you should wait to drive after drinking alcohol the night before

YOU wouldn’t consider getting behind the wheel after having a few beers – but what about the next morning?

Alcohol is removed from the blood at the rate of about one unit an hour, and this varies from person to person.

How long should you wait to drive after drinking alcohol the night before?

Drinkaware’s Chief Medical Adviser Dr Paul Wallace commented: “The amount of alcohol in your bloodstream depends on three things; the amount you take in, over what period of time and the speed at which your body gets rid of it.”

Alcohol is removed from the blood at the rate of about one unit an hour – but this varies from person to person.

The speed at which your body processes booze can depend on your size and gender (as men tend to process alcohol quicker than women), the state of your liver, your metabolism, your age, whether you’re taking any medication and the strength of the alcohol you have consumed.

How many units does an alcoholic drink contain?

  • 175ml glass of wine of average strength (12%) – 2.1 units
  • 250ml glass of wine of average strength (12%) – 3 units
  • One pint of low-strength lager, beer or cider (3.6%) – 2 units
  • One pint of high-strength lager, beer or cider (5.2%) – 3 units
  • One single measure of spirits – 1 unit

To keep health risks from alcohol to a low level if you drink most weeks:

  • Men and women are advised not to drink more than 14 units a week on a regular basis
  • Spread your drinking over three or more days if you regularly drink as much as 14 units a week
  • If you want to cut down, try to have several drink-free days each week

Source: NHS

“Imagine you’re drinking until three or four in the morning and you wake up at 8am,” says Dr Wallace.

“If you’ve had six or seven units, you could still have several units of alcohol in your body when you start your day.

“This is because your body can only process around one unit an hour.

“With several units of alcohol still in your body you would still be over the drink drive limit.”

Contrary to popular belief, there is nothing you can do to speed up the rate alcohol leaves your system.

“Having a cup of coffee or a cold shower won’t do anything at all to get rid of the alcohol,” says Dr Wallace.

“They may make you feel slightly different, but they haven’t eliminated the alcohol in any way.”

You need to be patient and wait it out, or use a different method of travel.

If you are thinking about driving the morning after you have been drinking, it’s best to consider how much you had, and how late into the night it was before you finished your last drink.

Under the influence of alcohol at any level, the skills you need to drive, such as hand eye coordination, are impaired to some extent.

“As well as the legal reasons, there are common sense reasons: you don’t want to be out on the road and putting yourself and others at risk,” Dr Wallace said.

Tips if you know you are going to be driving the next day

  • Opt for lower strength drinks – that’s 4% ABV or lower beer and 12% ABV or lower wine
  • Choose single measures instead of doubles
  • Make every other drink a water or soft drink
  • Stop drinking before the end of the night, so your body has time to process the alcohol before the morning

Source: Drinkaware

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