Understanding the legal drink driving limit

Written by: Simon Pavey, Last updated:1st July 2022

Understanding the legal drink driving limit

Alcohol impairs your cognitive ability, motor function and reactions times, making driving under the influence of alcohol a fast track to accident, injury and even death. For the sake of your own safety and the safety of those around you, it’s important that drivers understand the legal driving limit, the penalty for drink driving, and the risks associated with driving under the influence.

Similarly, it’s important that your business manages its commercial fleet in the right way; providing the right guidance and advice to employees around drinking and driving while also setting out some clear policies that ensure you’re legally covered and have a process for tackling issues as they arise. And it’s crucial that as a driver, you understand and are equipped with clear guidance from your employers.

What is the legal alcohol limit for driving?

In the England, Wales and Northern Ireland is 35micrograms of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath, 80milligrammes per 100 millimetres of blood, and 107milligrammes per 100 millilitres of urine – as per the government’s guidelines.

Despite these strict limits, there are many other factors that influence how much alcohol inhibits each individual person. Factors such as sex, body weight, metabolism, food consumption and hydration all influence the real time impact of alcohol on an individual cognitive functions.

Consequently, it’s impractical to roll out blanket recommendations that say ‘X amount of drinks means X amount of danger’, and so a limit is set on the amount of alcohol that can be present in one’s blood, breath or urine at any one time while driving. Fleet drivers need to know and adhere to these limits.

What is the penalty for drink driving?

If you are caught driving or attempting to drive while over the legal limit or otherwise unfit to drive from drinking, you could face 6 months imprisonment, an unlimited fine, and a driving ban of at least 1 year.

The implication of drink driving can leave you unable to carry out personal and workplace duties and may leave you incapable of retaining your job if your work relies on your ability to drive legally. Any of the above charges could lead to a significant increase in insurance costs, and could impact your ability to travel to certain countries.

In the case that you cause death by driving over the limit, you could face up 14 years imprisonment in addition to an unlimited fine and 2-year minimum driving ban.

Managing drug & alcohol consumption in your fleet

For fleet managers, ensuring the safety of your fleet is one of the highest priorities. Having an appropriate drug & alcohol policy in place is the first step in ensuring your fleet is operated correctly and safely. Your staff need to understand what is expected of them in terms of drug and alcohol consumption and the consequences of drug and alcohol use, and this is particularly true in any industry where workers are operating heavy machinery.

‘Heavy machinery’ for drivers could encompass vehicles themselves, and even equipment at the depot that’s used for maintenance and upkeep.

That said, it may also be useful to open up a conversation around substance misuse within your business. Increasingly, employers are moving from using punitive language around alcohol and drug use to talking about signposting, mental health, and treating addiction or substance misuse as a problem over demonising the addict – and so having a framework for talking about these topics may help facilitate a positive and constructive culture within your business.

Fleet management tools

What, though, can you do to improve driver safety from a tool perspective?

Fleet management tools like Tele-Gence offer fleet managers increased awareness and control over the actions and safety of drivers. The smart technology is designed to decrease costs whilst increasing driver safety by tracking important data such as departure and arrival times, and provide tailored driver safety scores that your managers can work with.

When it comes to dangerous driver and driving under the influence, tools like Tele-Gence can help to identify concerning driving patterns and hazardous practises so you can intervene and handle any challenging situations before accidents happen.

If Tele-Gence sounds like something your fleet management could benefit from, you can learn more about the service here, or get in touch with our team to discuss your options.