2 min read

How to avoid accidentally drink driving this Christmas

How to avoid accidentally drink driving this Christmas

Driving home for Christmas with a jolly playlist in the background sounds like a festive dream, but how many people are actually fit to drive over the festive period after enjoying the festivities with a beverage?

At this time of year, Christmas is traditionally seen as a time of togetherness and cheer, and often sees an increase in social gatherings and festive celebrations. Unfortunately, this surge in celebrations can also coincide with a spike in alcohol-related road incidents, and a new survey conducted by Honchō has highlighted this.

The data revealed that over a third (36%) of drivers having an alcoholic beverage will potentially drive over the legal alcohol limit over Christmastime - unknowingly or not, and a whopping 22% of people drive over the limit after their work Christmas party.

The study, which surveyed 1000 drivers across the UK, found a concerning trend of increased alcohol consumption during the festive season, leading to possible impaired driving. Asking drivers about their alcohol intake and driving habits after key Christmas events, including work Christmas parties, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and Boxing Day, Honchō found that 1 in 11 (9%) drivers will drive over the limit on all occasions. 

The research found that after Christmas Day (23%), work Christmas parties were the worst event for people driving over the limit the next day, with 22%. However, on this occasion, drivers were found to underestimate the time before they should drive by a whopping 5 hours and 7 minutes. After this was Boxing Day (20%), and Christmas Eve (20%).

The survey also revealed the average driver who will have a drink over the Christmas period, underestimates the amount of time they should wait before getting in their car by around 4 hours. 

Drink driving penalties can come into effect here, with the GOV website stating that you can receive either a £2,500 fine, 3 months’ imprisonment, or a driving ban if you’re caught driving a vehicle whilst unfit due to alcohol, or above the legal limit.

Information from the Met Police advises that the legal alcohol limit in England, Wales and Northern Ireland for driving is 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood or 35 micrograms of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath.

Whereas in Scotland, the drink driving alcohol limit for drivers is 50 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood, or 22 micrograms of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath.

In 2021 alone, approximately 4,660* reported accidents were drink driving collisions, equating to 5% of all reported road traffic accidents that year, and around 13 every single day.

As the festive season goes into full swing, it's essential for individuals to recognise the potential dangers of driving under the influence and take proactive measures to ensure the safety of themselves, and others when on the roads.


Tips to ensure safe driving when drinking over Christmas include:


  • Arrange alternative transport

If you are taking a trip over Christmas, no matter how short or far, and know you will be consuming alcohol, always arrange alternative transport.

This could be with a friend, or family member.


  • Never get into a car with a driver that has been drinking

Getting into a car with a driver who has consumed alcohol can be dangerous, they may say they are fine, but it’s never worth the risk.


  • Help each other

If you see someone clearly intoxicated trying to drive, step in and offer help.

You may not be directly at risk yourself here, but stopping a potential drink driving incident is so important and can save lives. Safe driving is key, and not just at Christmas.


  • Use an alcohol calculator to determine your ‘safe’ zone 

If you have had a drink, and are unsure on whether you are safe to drive, consider using an alcohol calculator, such as this one from The Morning After. By inputting your drinks, it will help you determine when it’s safe for you to hit the road again.


  • Book a taxi

Ordering a taxi is an easy way to get from A to B and there are many different providers to choose from depending on your area.

You can even prebook a taxi in advance on busier days such as Christmas Day.


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