Driving under the influence of drink and drugs


Drink driving is illegal and puts lives at risk. It is not possible to say how much alcohol you can drink and stay below the limit. The way alcohol affects you depends on: 

So if you’re driving it’s better to have none for the road. 

The Institute of Advanced Motorists calculate that a drink drive conviction could cost up to £70,000 as a result of fines, solicitors fees, increase in the cost of car insurance, and losing a job. 

It is illegal to drive if you are unfit to do so due to illegal/legal drugs and if you are driving with certain levels of illegal drugs in your system (even if it has not affected your driving).

The police can stop you and make you do a ‘field impairment assessment’ if they think you’re on drugs. This is a series of tests, for example asking you to walk in a straight line. They can also use a roadside drug kit to screen for cannabis and cocaine.

The law

There are strict alcohol limits for UK drivers. In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the legal alcohol limit for drivers is: 

You may be prosecuted if found with certain levels of these drugs in your body.

It’s illegal in England, Scotland and Wales to drive with legal drugs in your body if it impairs your driving.

It’s an offence to drive if you have over the specified limits of certain drugs in your blood and you have not been prescribed them.

Talk to your doctor about whether you should drive if you’ve been prescribed any of the following drugs:

You can drive after taking these drugs if:

The consequences 

The maximum penalty for causing death by careless driving when under the influence of drink or drugs is life in prison, with a minimum driving ban of five years. 

In addition to these penalties are the everyday consequences of being caught drink driving which can include: 

If you’re convicted of drug driving you may get:

Your driving licence will also show you’ve been convicted for drug driving. This will last for 11 years.

The maximum penalty for causing death by careless driving under the influence of drugs is life imprisonment.

Ideas for you

If you suspect or have witnessed someone driving under the influence of drink or drugs, you can report the person to the police via the 101 non-emergency service (or anonymously to Crimestoppers https://crimestoppers-uk.org

The information that the police require before they can act is the registration of the vehicle involved, the person’s name and if possible address and details of any regular journeys the person makes e.g. every Thursday night at approximately 23:30hrs B leaves the pub and drives the same route home. The police could then wait for the vehicle somewhere on that route and stop it. 

Things that might help

Here in Cornwall, the Police and Crime Commissioner has prioritised road safety and established a new partnership Vision Zero – A collaborative road safety community project (visionzerosouthwest.co.uk) 

Drinkaware Home | Drinkaware often run powerful campaigns and offers free resources.