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Mike Waters' blog: 21 December - Give it time

Date: 21 December 2011

Mike Waters is senior insight & consultancy manager at Arval, the leading vehicle leasing and fleet management company.

With Christmas nearly upon us there are a host of reminders not to drink and drive so I'm not going to provide another one. However, I do want to flag up the issue of people driving the next day, hours after they finished drinking but who may still be over the limit.

The latest official drink drive statistics from AlcoSense Breathalysers show that in the past decade there has been an increase of almost 60% in the proportion of morning after 'drink drive' accidents. The figures also show that nearly 20% of all accidents caused by drink driving in 2010 occurred between 5am and 1pm - a significant increase on the past two decades.

You may feel like you are doing the right thing getting a taxi home from a boozy party, but if you get in your car the next day and are still over the limit, you certainly are not. I've done a bit of internet research to look at how long it takes to sober up, although I must present my findings with the important caveat that there is no way of knowing exactly when you will be fit to drive because this depends on a range of factors.

But the general consensus seems to be that it takes about one hour for your body to rid itself of each unit of alcohol. To put this into some kind of context:

. Each pint of average strength beer or cider (4% vol.) takes at least two hours to leave your blood stream from when you stop drinking.

. Stronger beers and ciders (5.5% vol.) take three-hours to work their way through your system.

. A 250ml glass of 15% vol. wine takes four-hours.

. While a bottle of 15% vol. wine (around three glasses) means that you can't get behind the wheel for 13 hours after you finish drinking.

These are much longer time periods than many people would think to leave. And apparently the myth that men recover faster than women is rubbish as male and female livers work at the same speed.

So make sure that you are definitely fit to drive the day after drinking, leaving plenty of contingency time because how much you have eaten, your size, your tolerance to alcohol and your general health can all mean that it takes you longer to sober up than someone else. So have a great time this Christmas and New Year, but don't take any risks on the roads.