“Work’s Christmas party was last night. Great laugh. Always good to let your hair down at this time of year. Probably had a few too many drinks and now regretting it this morning. I’m on the early shift… I’ll never learn.
“Still, I’ve had a few hours kip, made myself a strong coffee and freshened up with a shower. I feel fine except for this hangover. Stuck in traffic doesn’t help.
“There seems to be a hold-up further down the road. What’s that? Looks like the sign says ‘Police Drink Drive Checkpoint’. Not sure what’s the point of that in the morning. They want to be out in the evening catching those who stupidly drink drive and endanger all of us.
“Now what? They’re pulling me over? Now I’m going to be late for work. Good Morning Officer. What’s up? Breathalyse me? I had a few bevvies last night but I’m fine now.
“I’m sorry, there must be some mistake. Your breathalyser must be faulty. Arrest me? Officer?”
This time of year, we find ourselves greatly exposed to a multitude of Drink Drive awareness campaigns. Police Forces and other blue light services, charities and local authorities publicise their own initiatives to warn of the dangers of drinking alcohol and getting behind the wheel. The Government even has a dedicated website – THINK! – which provides advice, guidance and legal information about safer driving.
It’s fair to say that general perceptions of drink driving focus on social functions which are often held in the evenings. However, data from THINK! revealed that an estimated 740 reported drink drive collisions took place in the morning, and around 5,500 people fail breath tests between 6am and midday every year.
That’s where the ‘Morning After’ campaign steps in. The campaign urges revellers to be mindful of the specific risk of driving while still over the limit the morning after drinking alcohol.
During the busy period for socialising between now and the end of the year, the risk of unwittingly being over the drink drive limit the morning after a heavy night is perhaps at its greatest, as shown in the scenario above.
Notwithstanding the obvious dangers, (around 240 people are killed and over 1,100 seriously injured in drink drive crashes each year), the impact to being convicted of drink driving can be devastating. Along with a criminal record, you could face a minimum of 12 month driving ban, a hefty fine, six months in prison and a mark on your licence for up to 11 years.
The ramifications of this goes much further and is reflected in everyday consequences, such as the loss of your job, loss of independence, increase in car insurance costs and even Visa applications for visiting foreign countries. The Institute of Advanced Motorists calculate that a drink drive conviction could cost between £20,000 – £50,000 as a result of fines, solicitors fees, increase in car insurance and loss of job.
Simon Rawlings, Morning After campaign manager, said: “It takes much longer than most people think for alcohol to pass through the body, which means there is often a danger of people unwittingly driving while still over the legal limit the morning after drinking.
“We are urging people to plan ahead and arrange alternative transport if they have to travel to work, for the school run, or any other engagement the morning after festive celebrations.
“The penalties for being caught drink driving the morning after are exactly the same as at any other time – it’s no excuse to say you thought you were fine to drive because of the length of time since your last drink.”
Of course, if you are at work and still over the limit, you could be in breach of your organisation’s drug and alcohol policy. By being intoxicated whilst working, you’ll be contravening several pieces of legislation of which your employer is responsible for:
Even if you were lucky enough to avoid detection travelling to work, you might not be so fortunate with your employer. Many companies will adopt a zero tolerance to being over the limit and consequences could be severe.
There’s an even greater risk if you’re a lone worker. Using heavy or dangerous machinery, driving or even facing customers could be both dangerous and irresponsible. It’s highly unlikely that your employer would be tolerant of either… not only for the obvious danger to your health and wellbeing, but others around you as well as giving your company a very bad reputation.
So next time you think about having a few drinks the night before working, think! Your hangover could last a lot longer than just a day.