The real impact of drink driving at Christmas

Drink driving is never okay. No matter who you are or what the situation is, there is no reasonable reason for you to get behind the wheel of a car or other vehicle once you’ve had a drink.

Driving properly requires serious concentration, quick reactions, and to be alert at all times. Alcohol, even in small doses will slow down your reflexes and reaction time, alter your visual perception, decrease your concentration, and hinder the ability to make rational decisions.

All these effects will have an impact on your ability to drive and regardless of how big or small these impacts are, you are putting yourself and other drivers at serious risk.

Drink driving has a real impact on not only the drunk driver but their family, friends and even their workplace.

It can also have an enormous impact on any innocent victims and their families that just happen to be on the same road at the same time.

While drink-driving can and does happen at any time, with more social events and get-togethers and a general increase in the intake of alcohol, the Christmas period is the time of the year which has become synonymous with drink driving.

Drink driving at Christmas

Whether it’s at the works Christmas party, meeting up to exchange gifts with friends or just indulging in a post-Christmas lunch tipple, there are countless opportunities to indulge in a few Christmas drinks.

Even if you’re not a regular drinker, it’s likely that you’ll ‘have a couple’ over the holidays. In December, alcohol consumption increases by over 40% and this means more drivers than usual find themselves drunk, having to get home.

You have to find a way of getting back and for many, getting in their car is the quickest and easiest way to do it.

As we mentioned above, even the smallest amount of alcohol can impede your ability to drive. While there are set limits on how much alcohol you are legally allowed to consume before driving, these limits can differ wildly depending on a number of factors, including:

  • Your weight, age, sex and metabolism (the rate your body uses energy)
  • The type and amount of alcohol you’re drinking
  • What you’ve eaten recently
  • Your stress levels at the time*

As these factors impact each individual driver differently, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and drink as little alcohol as possible if you’re planning on driving home.

With more drinkers around and more drivers generally on the road, a cocktail of the two can be deadly.

Given the rise in alcohol consumption in December, it’s unsurprising that Police and other authorities focus extra attention on drink driving over the holidays.

Police Christmas crackdown

During last year’s festive period, Police stopped more than 100,000 drivers which resulted in over 5,500 positive, failed or refused breath tests.

This Christmas, once again Police forces across the country are cracking down on potential drunk drivers with a series of intelligence-led’ operations throughout December.

As well as an increase in patrols and a focus on stopping irresponsible drivers, some forces have released hard-hitting campaigns to highlight the true impact of drink driving at Christmas.

West Midlands Police have produced a 360-degree virtual reality video entitled ‘The morning after’ which aims to target those drivers who may still be over the limit when driving the morning after.

The Christmas crackdown seems to have worked thus far after the depressing news was released that 137 drivers and motorcyclists have already been arrested during the first two weeks of the Police’s extra efforts.

The figure is reported to be an increase on the same period during last year’s crackdown.

The impact of drink driving

The reason why there’s such a heavy focus on preventing and identifying drink drivers at Christmas and throughout the year is the enormous impact that driving impaired because of alcohol can have on so many different peoples lives.

While deaths in drink-drive accidents have decreased dramatically by around 85% in the last 35 years, there are still around 240 deaths each year and this number has not reduced at all since 2010.

For what is a completely preventable issue, drink driving still ruins thousands of lives each year. There are some many different people that can be impacted by what is a stupid and selfish decision.

If you are caught drink driving there a range of strict penalties you could face depending on the severity of the situation.

convicted drivers

Drink-driving penalties

For simply being in charge of the vehicle while above the legal limit, i.e sat in the car with the engine running, you could face up to:

  • 3 months in prison
  • £2,500 fine
  • A possible driving ban

If you are caught driving or attempting to drive while above the legal limit, you may get:

  • 6 months’ imprisonment
  • An unlimited fine
  • A driving ban for at least 1 year (3 years if convicted twice in 10 years)

If you cause a death by careless driving when under the influence of drink, the penalties are incredibly serious. You will face up to:

  • 14 years’ imprisonment
  • an unlimited fine
  • a ban from driving for at least 2 years
  • an extended driving test before your licence is returned

There are also a number of different impacts not punishable by the Police. You could lose your job, you could be stopped from gaining future employment, you will have to pay far more for car insurance in the future. A moment of stupidity could almost certainly end up ruining your life.

It can, and almost always does ruin the lives of the innocent victims involved in accidents with drink drivers.

Whether it’s a wrecked vehicle, a broken bone or the worst possible scenario, a loss of life, drink driving accidents have many victims, some of whom have to live with the consequences for years after.

As the mother of Lauren Danks, a 22-year-old killed by the reckless actions of a drunk driver in November 2016 says:

“The look on my husband’s face as he broke down telling me our daughter was dead is something that will stay with me for the rest of my life.

“Losing my daughter – Lauren, is the most unimaginable pain I have ever felt. But I have no choice – I have to drag myself through each day to give my boys some kind of normal life.

Instead of looking to a future of happy days, wedding plans, shopping for baby things, I have had to make arrangements for my daughter’s funeral.”

How to avoid drink driving

The obvious answer to the question, “how to avoid drink driving?” is to simply not drink any alcohol if you’re planning on driving but if you find yourself in a situation where you’ve had more than the legal limit of alcohol and need to get home you have a few options.

Public transport – Depending on where you are and what time it is, you can try and catch a bus or train back towards your home. While this is unlikely to get you all the way there, it will make the walk home shorter and easier.

Stay over – You could also try and stay with a friend or family member and once you’ve given the alcohol time to get out of your system in the morning you can drive home or alternatively get them to drop you home the next morning.

Taxi – There is always the option of a taxi home. This may be an expensive way of getting back but it’s still far safer than drink driving and will cost you much less than the fine you’ll receive.


Temporary car insurance – A cheaper way of ensuring you and your car get home after a night out is with a temporary car insurance policy. Short term cover insures another driver, a friend or family member who hasn’t been drinking to use your vehicle.

It’s quick and easy to get a quote on your phone and you could be covered in minutes. Your policy documents are emailed to you instantly so you’re able to get home safely whenever you need.

Temporary insurance also protects your No Claims Discount so if something happens while someone else is using your vehicle, it won’t impact your existing annual cover.

Ideally, you should plan ahead and make sure that you have a safe and legal way of getting home. But remember, however you get home after a night out be safe on the roads. and please don’t drink and drive. It’s never worth the risk.



* Drinkaware

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