Sober enough to read this?

Charity appeals to drivers: not a drop, not a drag this festive season, as police crackdown starts

Brake, the road safety charity, is calling on drivers to stay sober if driving over the Christmas period – not a drop, not a drag – or plan to get home by taxi or public transport, to prevent devastating casualties.

Brake is renewing calls for a zero tolerance drink drive limit of 20mg alcohol per 100ml of blood, in line with evidence that even one drink dramatically increases crash risk and to send a clear message it should be none for the road. A blood alcohol level of 20-50mg increases your likelihood of crashing three-fold. The call comes on the back of a recent survey by Brake and Direct Line which showed that more than three-quarters of drivers thought the current drink-drive limit too high.

The Scottish Government introduced a lower limit of 50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood, on 5th December 2014. The rest of the UK still retains a 80mg limit – higher than all other EU countries except Malta. Road Safety Scotland launched their drink-drive campaign this month.

Gary Rae, campaigns director for Brake, the road safety charity, said: “As a charity that supports bereaved and injured road crash victims, we witness the suffering that drink and drug driving inflict, and appeal to everyone to help put a stop to it. We support the message put out by the Scottish Government and think it applies to the whole of the UK. If you’re driving home from celebrations this festive season, it’s vital you take your responsibility for people’s safety seriously, and stay completely off booze and drugs. It’s a fact that even small amounts of alcohol or drugs increase your risk of crashing.

“We are calling on the Westminster government to take action on drink driving. We have the highest drink-drive limit in Europe, sending out the dreadful message that a drink or two before driving is acceptable. We welcome the lower limit in Scotland as a positive stepping stone towards zero tolerance. The evidence shows that a tough approach helps prevent casualties.”

Assistant Chief Constable Bernard Higgins from Police Scotland said: “Between December last year and January 2016, 452 drivers failed a breath test. It’s really disappointing that so many people were prepared to cause danger to others as well as themselves. “We are urging people to plan ahead during the party season. Think about how you’re going to get home - before you head out – and don’t forget about the journeys you’ll make the morning after. “The consequences of drink driving can be devastating and we will be particularly vigilant during the festive period to discourage anyone thinking about drinking and driving, so the best advice if you are planning to drink this Christmas is don’t risk it, don’t drink and drive.”

Notes to editors


  • In 2014, 240 people in Great Britain were killed in crashes where at least one driver was over the drink-drive limit, largely unchanged since 2011;
  • Fatalities involving at least one driver over the alcohol limit accounted for 13% of road deaths in 2014;
  • Serious injuries where at least one driver was over the limit dropped by 3% cent between 2013 and 2014, the third consecutive annual decrease;
  • 70% of drink-drive fatalities in 2014 were men, showing a worrying trend developing;
  • A quarter of all drink-drive deaths in 2014 resulted from crashes where the driver over the limit was 25-39;[1]
  • Between 2010 and 2013 for every four deaths in collisions involving a drink-drive offence, one more death happened in a collision at a lower blood alcohol level;
  • It is estimated that lowering the drink-drive limit in 2010 could have saved 25 lives and prevented 95 serious injuries between 2010 and 2013.[2]

Drink driving is still one of the biggest killers on our roads. In 2014, it is estimated that 13% of all road deaths in Great Britain resulted from crashes where the at least one driver was over the alcohol limit [3]. A further estimated 25 road deaths per year are caused by drivers who are under the drink-drive limit, but who have significant amounts of alcohol in their blood [4].

The number of deaths involving a driver under the influence of alcohol was 240 in 2014. That figure has been consistently been reported since 2010 and this trend looks set to continue if the provisional estimate for the 2015 figures proves to be accurate (200-290 killed).[5]

These deaths, and the many more serious injuries, can be stopped if all drivers pledge to not drink any alcohol – not a drop – before driving. They can also be stopped by improving government policies. Evidence from around the world shows that taking steps such as lowering drink drive limits and stepping up police enforcement checks are highly effective in cutting drink-drive casualties.

Westminster rejected recommendations for a lower limit in the North Report into drink and drug driving and Transport Select Committee inquiry into the issue. We now have the highest drink drive limit in Europe, alongside Malta.

This month, the transport secretary, Chris Grayling caused outrage among campaigners and road safety groups when he said he would not consider lowering the drink-drive limit: “we ought not to penalise drivers for having one glass of wine”, he told the Daily Mail.

Latest Brake and Direct Line survey 



Brake calls on drivers to never drive after drinking any amount of alcohol – not a drop – and appeals to everyone to look out for friends and family by speaking out against drink driving.

There are plenty of alternatives to driving if you want to have a drink. Plan ahead for how you will get home by walking (if there's a safe route), taking public transport or booking a taxi. If you need to drive then decide on a designated driver who doesn't drink any alcohol at all, and make sure they stick to this.

Driving after drinking alcohol significantly increases your risk of crashing, potentially killing or injuring yourself, you passengers or someone else. Even if you feel sober after one drink, your reaction times will have slowed and your crash risk increased.

Don't drink if you are driving early the next morning. There's no way of knowing exactly how long it takes to sober up completely after drinking, but it's longer than many people think. As a rough guide you should allow one hour to absorb alcohol, plus at least one hour for each unit consumed – but it could take longer, so you should always leave extra time to be safe. If you have to drive the next morning, limit yourself to no more than one or two drinks. If you have a lot to drink, you may be impaired for all of the following day.

Brake is calling on members of the public to play their part in making roads safer by signing Brake’s Pledge at, to make a personal commitment to use roads safely and sustainably, and help reduce the lives lost needlessly on our roads.


Brake is a national road safety charity that exists to stop the needless deaths and serious injuries that happen on roads every day, make streets and communities safer for everyone, and care for families bereaved and injured in road crashes. Brake promotes road safety awareness, safe and sustainable road use, and effective road safety policies. We do this through national campaignscommunity educationservices for road safety professionals and employers, and by coordinating the UK's flagship road safety event every November, Road Safety Week. Brake is a national, government-funded provider of support to families and individuals devastated by road death and serious injury, including through a helpline and support packs.

Brake was founded in the UK in 1995. It works globally to promote action on road safety.

Follow Brake on TwitterFacebook or Brake Blog

Road crashes are not accidents; they are devastating and preventable events, not chance mishaps. Calling them accidents undermines work to make roads safer, and can cause insult to families whose lives have been torn apart by needless casualties.

[1] DfT,Reported road casualties in Great Britain: Estimates for accidents involving illegal alcohol levels: 2014 (final) and 2015 (provisional), 2016

[2] Prof. R. Allsop, Saving lives by lowering the drink-drive limit, 2015

[3] DfT,Reported road casualties in Great Britain: Estimates for accidents involving illegal alcohol levels: 2014 (final) and 2015 (provisional), 2016

[4] Prof. R. Allsop, Saving lives by lowering the drink-drive limit, 2015

[5] DfT, Reported road casualties in Great Britain: Estimates for accidents involving illegal alcohol levels: 2014 (final) and 2015 (provisional), 2016


Tags: Drink-Drive police scottish government drug-drive alcohol christmas public transport