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  • Information about Drink Driving
  • Drink Driving Penalties UK
  • What affects the way in which alcohol is burned off?
  • How much is one unit of alcohol?
  • Your rights when stopped by the Police?

Drink Driving Facts

Information about Drink Driving

If you are looking for information about drink driving you are in the right place.

Since the 70’s, drink driving fatalities have decreased significantly. Deaths had decreased by 84% between 2013 and 1979 when drink drive deaths accounted for around a quarter all off road related deaths.

This decrease has been due, in part, to increased education of the effects of drink driving.

However, many charities have campaigned for zero tolerance policy but many people deem this as being unrealistic as there are other factors that may cause a BAC reading in breathalysers such as time since eating or even using mouthwash.

At Insurance Revolution, we lobbied government to increased education and understanding of the drink driving limits in place. You can see some of the work we undertook on the Insurance Revolution website.

What is the legal drink driving limit in England?


Drink Drive Penalties UK

The best place to research drink drive penalties is on the official UK government website however we have used the information there to provide simple answers.

Being in charge of a vehicle while above the legal limit or unfit through drink

Could result in:

  • 3 months’ imprisonment
  • up to £2,500 fine
  • a possible driving ban

Driving or attempting to drive while above the legal limit or unfit through drink

Could result in:

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

Refusing to provide a specimen of breath, blood or urine for analysis

Could result in:

  • 6 months’ imprisonment
  • an unlimited fine
  • a ban from driving for at least 1 year

Causing death by careless driving when under the influence of drink

Could result in:

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


In some cases, usually when your ban is over 12 months, the court will rule that are eligible to reduce your driving ban by taking a drink-drive rehabilitation scheme course, or a DDRS course.

The decision to take a course has to be made in court when you are found guilty. Your decision in court will be final so you cannot change your mind after the event.

If you are looking for a course supplier, you can view the course providers in your region in our directory.

If you are convicted of drink driving, you may find that it impacts on your working life, especially if you drive for a living.

If you use company vehicles, or you drive for a living, for example as a courier, a ban will have a very obvious knock on effect. Furthermore, you will also see an effect for years to come. You may experience higher than usual insurance premiums, plus you will have to inform your employer to ensure that you are insured on their vehicles properly for the years until your conviction is ‘spent’.


What affects the way in which alcohol is burned off:

According to the NHS, there are a variety of factors that affect how quickly your body burns or uses alcohol.

  • your weight
  • whether you're male or female
  • your age
  • how quickly or slowly your body turns food into energy (your metabolism)
  • how much food you have eaten
  • the type and strength of the alcohol
  • whether you're taking medication and, if so, what type

It can also take longer if your liver isn't working normally due to illness.

Of course, another major factor is how much alcohol you have consumed and in what period of time. The NHS again, explain what a unit is for us.

How much is one unit of alcohol?

One unit is equivalent to 10ml or 8g of pure alcohol. There are roughly:

  • 2.1 units in a standard glass (175ml) of average-strength wine (12%)
  • 3 units in a large glass (250ml) of average-strength wine (12%)
  • 2 units in a pint of low-strength lager, beer or cider (3.6%)
  • 3 units in a pint of higher-strength lager, beer or cider (5.2%)
  • 1 unit in a single measure of spirits (25ml)

Legal Drink Drive Limit In Scotland

Your rights when stopped by the police:

When you are stopped by the police, you do have rights.

The police can ask to see your driving license, your MOT certificate and your insurance certificate. If you fail to provide these, you will be asked to go along to a police station with the requested documents within 7 days.

You can be arrested if you fail to give a breath test or breathalyser on the road side without a good reason. Good reason is usually deemed to be that you have a medical condition, either physical or mental which may stop you from giving a breath sample. If you fail to do a breath test the police can arrest you.

The police are also allowed to give you on the stop fines and points for offences such as mobile phone use whilst driving, careless driving, failure to wear a seat belt and driving too close to other vehicles.

However, the police are also allowed to take no action at all, leave you with a warning, charge you or even issue driver training.

If you are given a fixed penalty and you believe it is unjust you can argue the case in court.

Of course the police are within their rights to seize or impound your vehicle, or ask you to have your vehicle fixed within 14 days depending on the reason they have stopped you.

You can read more on the Government’s website.

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