Day After Offences: Drink Driving after a bender
As we draw closer towards the end of the Summer holiday season, remember that alcohol and drugs affect individuals in different ways. So, you should not compare your own tolerance with that of a friend’s, as they may still be under the legal limit to drive a vehicle, and you might not be, even if you have both had the same amount of alcohol to drink during the course of the night.
The key principle to remember that even if you are under the legal limit to get behind the wheel, you do not have 100% control over your reflexes. This lack of control can also carry on well into the next day, rendering you as an ineffective driver, and a risk to yourself and others on the road.
If a person chooses to drive a vehicle after a big night out, or even on the next day, they may find it difficult to:
- Maintain proper focus and concentration on the road;
- Accurately judge the speed of their vehicle;
- Notice traffic lights, signs, and other motoring hazards;
- React appropriately to things going on around you, especially is surprise hazards appear; and
- Stay awake.
Considering the factors listed above, it is safe to say that driving really is a complicated activity that requires the driver’s attention at all times in order to make appropriate judgments and decisions. Being under the influence of drugs or alcohol and driving not only impinges on your ability to drive, but is also considered to be a serious criminal offence in New South Wales.
There are three blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limits in New South Wales: zero, 0.02, and 0.05. Each limit applies based off the licence type and vehicle that is driven. A zero BAC applies to all learner drivers, provisional drivers, and all visiting drivers or riders holding an interstate, overseas or provisional licence. A BAC of under 0.02 applies to drivers of vehicles weighing more than 13.9 tonnes, dangerous vehicles, or public vehicles such as taxis and busses. For all other licences, a BAC of under 0.05 will apply.
Trying to calculate your BAC after consuming alcohol is impossible. This is because your blood alcohol levels may increase and decrease over time, and continue to do so for up to two hours after you have stopped drinking. Adding on to this, alcohol concentrations vary between drinks, as well as how much of a certain beverage is served (schooners, middies, schmiddies and shots). Other factors in this respect include the gender, size and weight of the person, fitness, fatigue and general health, as well as any recent consumption of food.
There is no way to speed up the rate at which your body gets rid of alcohol. Alcohol leaves your body through your urine, sweat and breath, and is broken down mostly by your liver. Contrary to common beliefs, black coffee, cold showers, water and food will not help to speed up the process. This means that a large amount of alcohol can still be present in your blood after a big night out, continuing to diminish your effectiveness as a driver, as you may still be over the legal limit for your licence type to drive.
It is never a good idea to drive whilst intoxicated – doing so could attract heavy fines, loss of your licence, and in some cases a term of imprisonment. As well as this, it is important to remember the risks to your own safety and wellbeing, as well as the safety of other motorists on the road in making the decision to drink drive – it is always better to have a plan B way of getting home after an all-night bender rather than to not get home at all.
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