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Catch up with the latest press releases from LV=

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Morning after drink driving on the increase

Press release: 28/11/2013

  1. 1.2 million motorists have driven ‘the morning after’ while still over the drink drive limit in the last two years
  2. ‘Morning after’ drink drivers are on average five hours away from being sober enough to drive when they get behind the wheel
  3. Close to half (46%) of drivers underestimate or don’t know the time it takes for alcohol to leave the body

‘Morning after’ drink driving is on the increase with more motorists putting themselves and other road users at risk.

Research from LV= car insurance reveals that since 2012 one in 30 (3% or 1.2 million) motorists[1] have driven while still over the legal alcohol limit the ‘morning after’ and in many cases these drivers did not realise[2].

In the run up to Christmas, drink driving arrests peak across the UK. According to official police data, obtained by a Freedom of Information request from LV= car insurance, the number of motorists caught drink-driving has fallen[3] but the authorities are finding more people driving while over the legal alcohol limit in the morning. Police arrested 4% more drink drivers between the hours of 6am and 8am in 2012[4] than in 2011.

Research among motorists shows that men are more likely than women to be over the limit when they drive the morning after a night drinking (78% and 22% respectively). This is because men will consume a greater number of alcohol units[5] on a night out and are more[6] likely to use their car the morning after. On average, morning after drivers consume 19 units of alcohol (e.g. seven pints of strong lager or six 250ml glasses of wine) and then drive their car just 10 hours[7] after having their first drink – meaning that they are five hours away from being sober enough to drive legally.

This upward trend is being exacerbated by a lack of awareness among drivers about how long it takes alcohol to leave their system. When asked how long it would take someone who has had two strong pints of lager (e.g. Stella Artois, 5%+ ABV) or six units of alcohol, to process the alcohol and be under the drink drive limit, close to a half (46%) underestimated the time or had no idea how long it would take.

The law states that a driver can have a maximum of 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood, 35mg per 100ml of breath or 107mg per 100ml of urine. This equates to approximately four units for an average man and two to three units for an average woman[8] and if a person has more than this in their system, they would be over the legal limit to drive. According to the official guidelines[9], it takes about an hour for the body to break down one unit of alcohol, however alcohol tolerance depends on a number of factors including the person’s age, weight, gender and metabolism.

Among all those drivers who knew they were over the drink drive limit in the morning, one in five (19%) said they believed they were okay to drive at the time, that driving was unavoidable (37%) or it was just a short distance (26%). Close to one in 10 (7%) thought it was acceptable as they weren’t driving on a motorway and one in eight (13%) said they were only a little over the limit so it didn’t matter.

During the month of December, drink driving peaks[10] across the UK, with 10% of incidents occurring during the month of December. So far in 2013, the drunkest driver was arrested by Bedfordshire Police and had 299mg of alcohol per 100ml of breath – meaning they were more than eight times over the legal limit. LV= is warning drivers to be aware of the time it takes the body to process alcohol and not to drive if they think they may be over the legal alcohol limit.

It’s easy to assume that after a good night’s sleep you will be sober enough to drive the next day but depending on how many units you’ve had, you may not be fit to drive. The key to enjoying the festive season is to plan ahead and don’t drive if you are not within the legal alcohol limits.

John O’Roarke, Managing Director of LV= car insurance, comments

Police Force

Total number of drivers caught for drink driving in 2011 and 2012

Number caught for drink driving so far in 2013

Thames Valley Police



South Wales Police (Heddlu De Cymru)



Avon and Somerset Constabulary



Cheshire Constabulary[3]



Bedfordshire Police



Hertfordshire Constabulary



North Yorkshire Police



North Wales Police (Heddlu Gogledd Cymru)



Cambridgeshire Constabulary



Lincolnshire Police



Notes to editors:

The research was conducted by ICM research and commissioned by LV= car insurance. ICM questioned 1,688 GB drivers online. The research was conducted between 8 and 10 November 2013. A Freedom of Information request was sent to all 45 Police constabularies in England, Wales, of Scotland, of which 22 (49%) had replied at the time of compiling.

  1. According to the DVLA, there are 36,700,000 motorists in the UK. Since 2012 one in 10 (11% or 4,037,000) drivers have driven a car following a night out drinking an excessive amount of alcohol. Of these, 30% did not leave enough time for the alcohol to leave their system before driving a car. 30% of 4,037,000 = 1,211,100 drivers – or 3% of all drivers. This was calculated based on the amount of time between when they started drinking and when they drove compared to the number of units they drank. According to the NHS, it takes one hour for the body to process a unit of alcohol. In the UK and according to Drink Aware, the alcohol limit for drivers is 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood, 35mg per 100ml of breath or 107mg per 100ml of urine. One unit will increase blood alcohol content by 20mg/100ml blood for men and up to 30mg/100ml for women – with the legal limit being 80mg/100ml so men could have approximately four units, women two to three units before being over the legal limit. The calculation was based on the number of male drivers who would have had at least four units of alcohol in their system when they started driving and women who had three units. It is worth noting that these figures do not take into account other factors that affect the rate at which a person processes alcohol e.g. weight, age metabolism, current stress levels and whether the person has eaten recently; they are an estimation only.
  2. 18% of those in the calculation above for morning after drink drivers said they had never driven while over the limit, showing that many of them did not realise they had.
  3. According to Police data overall drink drive offences fell by 4% in 2012 compared to 2011.
  4. According to Police data there were 350 drivers arrested between the hours of 6am and 8am in 2011 and 363 drivers arrested between 6am and 8am in 2012. This represents a 4% increase.
  5. On average men will drink 13.09 units while women will drink 9.58 units.
  6. Respondents were asked ‘after an evening of drinking where you were drinking excessively, have you ever driven the next day?’ 30% for men said yes versus 19% for women.
  7. 9.6 is the average number of hours between these drivers drinking their first drop of alcohol and then getting behind the wheel of the car.
  8. In the UK, the alcohol limit for drivers is 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood, 35mg per 100ml of breath or 107mg per 100ml of urine: One unit will increase blood alcohol content by 20mg/100ml blood for men and up to 30mg/100ml for women - with the LEGAL limit being 80mg/100ml: so men could have approximately four units, women two to three units before being over the legal limit.
  9. According to the NHS
  10. More Police forces reported that the most drink drive arrests were in December than any other month in 2012 (14 Police forces out of 22).

For further information please contact:

Vanessa Chance,, 0208 256 6996/ 07947 380074


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