A common question (and one we’ve often asked ourselves, even as a drink driving lawyers!) is how do you know when you are fit to drive the morning after the night before? The simple, rather unhelpful answer is that there is no real way of knowing when, or at what rate, the alcohol that you have consumed has completely left your system. It depends on how much alcohol you’ve consumed, over what period of time and the speed at which your body eliminates alcohol, which varies depending on the individual. It is not safe to assume that because you have had a few hours sleep, that the alcohol consumed the night before will have been eliminated from your system and you are safe to be at the wheel.
In France, the problem has been combated by making it illegal for anyone (including teetotallers!) to drive without having a handheld breathalyser kit in their car with them. However, no such measure has been introduced in England and Wales. The Government is about to introduce legislation which will radically change drink driving laws by removing the statutory option of having a replacement blood or urine test to those drivers who are detected as being only marginally over the legal alcohol limit in breath. The option is effectively a “safety net” due to the potential margin for error of evidential breath testing machines and the differing levels of alcohol that appear in each person”s breath. The law as it stands allows the results of the blood or urine sample to replace a breath test in borderline cases. If the sample is below the legal limit in blood or urine, the motorist will avoid prosecution. Our experience as drink driving lawyers tells us that those individuals who are charged based on a blood or urine sample have a better chance of being found not guilty than those whose have been prosecuted based on positive breath samples. The statutory option will no longer be made available from the end of next year and will significantly reduce the defences available to drink driving charges in borderline breath alcohol cases.
Our advice to anyone who believes they may still have any alcohol in their system is simply not to drive. However, if you are unfortunate enough to be arrested for a drink driving offence and are offered the option of having a breath sample replaced with a sample of blood or urine then you should accept it as it may be your best chance of avoiding conviction.
To speak to a drink driving lawyer for advice on how we can help you, please call 0800 4334 678.