The dangers of drinking and driving

Understand the risks of mixing drinking and driving.

Drinking and driving is one of the most dangerous and thoughtless activities anyone can ever undertake, as the consequences of doing so can result in severe injury and even death not just for themselves but also other innocent road users and members of the public.

Know the basics

The law states that an individual shall be over the legal alcohol limit if after analysis he or she is found to have 35 microgrammes of alcohol per 100 ml of breath, 80 mg of alcohol in 100 ml of blood or 107 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of urine.

If found guilty of driving or attempting to drive while over the legal limit, offenders can face up to six months imprisonment, a fine of up to GBP 5,000 and be banned from driving for a year. However, if an individual causes death by dangerous driving while under the influence of drink they could be imprisoned for up to 14 years and face an unlimited fine.

People should also remember that alcohol affects everybody differently and that weight, age, sex, metabolic rate, when a person last ate and the type of alcohol ingested can all be important factors in determining how intoxicated they will be and how long the alcohol will stay in their system.

The impact of drinking and driving

Figures from the Department for Transport published earlier this year showed traffic accident rates in the UK rose by three per cent for fatalities and two per cent for serious injuries from 2010 to 2011.

Furthermore, official statistics from the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners showed that on average two per cent of all drivers involved in an accident failed a subsequent breath test, meaning one in every 50 accidents on the UK’s roads each year can be directly related to alcohol consumption.

Injuries can be extremely severe for those involved in a drink-driving accident, with broken bones, major and minor lacerations, whiplash, concussion, internal bleeding and worse.

As a result, individuals seeking compensation following injuries suffered as a result of a drink-driver’s actions may feel they are entitled to greater amounts of compensation, but this is not the case.

Gary Lee, chartered legal executive at Hayward Baker, states: “Broadly speaking the compensation a party receives does not depend on how much to blame the other driver was. If you are run over by a drunk-driver or one that is sober the compensation you receive will be the same. Compensation is determined by the injury.”

This is not always the case overseas, however, as the US system of ‘punitive damages’ means the courts will take into account the conduct of individuals at fault when discerning the amount of damages to award.

New rules for offenders

The UK government recently announced the launch of tough new rules – coming into force from June 1st – for dealing with individuals taking their vehicles out on to the roads when over the legal limit.

Road safety minister Stephen Hammond stated: “Drink-drivers are a menace and it is right that we do everything we can to keep the most high-risk offenders off the road.”

Under the new regulations, those motorists who refuse to cooperate with police and provide blood samples for analysis when suspected of being intoxicated while in charge of a vehicle will be dealt with in the same manner as other high-risk offenders.

This means their licence will be suspended until such time as they can pass a medical examination and prove they are fit to drive both legally and safely.

Furthermore, repeat offenders will be forced to submit to medical examinations showing they are no longer alcohol-dependent at the end of their disqualification period before they can even re-apply to have a licence.

It is hoped that this tougher stance will both help to keep these dangerous individuals off the roads and ensure vulnerable members of the public and other road users are not put in harm’s way by their selfish actions.

The dangers of drinking and driving

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